BY KARA SHOEMAKER | July 13, 2020
June is Pride Month, a nationally recognized celebration that commemorates the 1968 Stonewall riots in New York City that sparked the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. It is an important month that increases LGBTQ+ visibility, promotes equality, and educates the public about LGBTQ+ history. In Santa Barbara, Pacific Pride Foundation has led Pride celebrations for over a decade.
“For the last 13 years Pacific Pride Foundation has provided the Pacific Pride Festival in August in Santa Barbara as a fund raiser and gift to the community,” said Lynn Brown, Board Chair for Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF). “Sadly, this time we cannot host a face-to-face festival due to COVID-19. This time we are going to celebrate Pride all summer.”
PPF’s Summer of Pride 2020 includes digital educational panels and programs for the LGBTQ+ community, as well as community fundraisers. Local businesses such as Deckers Brands, Norwex, SeaVees, and many others have partnered with PPF and are donating a portion of their monthly sales to the organization.
“A lot of people have stepped up. Even businesses that have been hit hard themselves are turning out to support Pride. I am really proud of our community,” shared Brown.
For Deckers Brands – whose portfolio includes UGG®, Koolaburra by UGG®, HOKA ONE ONE®, Teva® – supporting PPF and the LGBTQ+ community is a commitment that goes beyond a month long fundraiser.
“Our relationship has developed over the last 5 or 6 years. It’s transitioned from an interaction of donating a piece of product here or there, to something that is much more of an integrated program,” said Stephen Coyne, Business Development Manager for North America Retail at Deckers and PPF board member.
In addition to donating 10% of sales to PPF during Pride month for each of the last four years, Deckers has also partnered with PPF to host the Youth Connect Conference and PROUD Prom at their corporate headquarters in Goleta. These events are designed to bring together and empower LGBTQ+ youth in our community.
“Pacific Pride has done so much for us as well. They came last fall and actually did an entire workshop with our marketing team. We struggle with terms like men and women, so they helped us develop language to describe products that are more gender neutral, and shared other creative ways to be more inclusive. Throughout the conversation we touched on gender identity, fluidity, and pronouns. It was a great learning experience for our brand marketing teams, and we would like to expand that as time goes on,” said Coyne.
PPF offers a variety of cost-effective LGBTQ+ competency trainings for organizations, which can be tailored to any site’s specific needs or area of focus. In addition to Deckers, PPF has presented to many other local organizations, including the Santa Barbara Foundation, Planned Parenthood, and Santa Barbara City College, to name a few. With COVID-19, these trainings have transitioned to live online presentations.
“Our relationship with Pacific Pride Foundation is something Deckers is really proud of. It’s part of our deepening commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion. The Pacific Pride Foundation is one of our partners in our journey,” added Coyne.
In addition to Pride festivities, PPF continues to provide important services to those living with HIV/AIDS and the LGBTQ+ community in Santa Barbara County. PPF quickly transitioned their services online, offering individual and group therapy sessions by utilizing secure HIPAA compliant platforms. After implementing social distancing modifications to protect staff and clients, PPF also relaunched their Syringe Exchange Program, which offers sterile syringes and other supplies as a means of preventing the spread of HIV & Hep C.
Creating opportunities to build community is another important aspect of PPF’s work. This is particularly vital for LGBTQ+ youth, who are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth. In addition to providing counseling, PPF brings together LGBTQ+ youth to safely celebrate their identities, join in activism and education, and build friendships through Youth Services like Proud Prom, Youth Connect, (90) Days of Summer Program, and more.
“We kept our Proud Youth Group going by moving online. That was so successful that we have reached more youth than ever – we’ve seen more than a 30 percent increase. Before COVID-19 they would meet at our Santa Barbara office, but by going online we were able to meet the needs of more youth because it was easier for them to connect with us,” shared Brown.
“With COVID-19 we have seen an increased demand for our services, like our youth groups and counseling services. I think we have really stepped up to provide the community with the support that they need and we are really happy that we can do that. The Santa Barbara Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Grant helped us keep those services in place. We were able to keep a majority of our programs and services available to our clients.”
To learn more about Summer Pride 2020 and Pacific Pride Foundation’s programs, please visit: pacificpridefoundation.org.