In a gathering outside of the Civic Plaza in downtown Watsonville on May 28, mayor Jimmy Dutra and the city of Watsonville raised the rainbow Pride Flag in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month.
Celebrated annually in June, Pride Month acknowledges the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Manhattan, a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.
The City Council voted 5-2 in January to raise the flag in front of the city’s civic headquarters. Dutra, the city’s first openly gay mayor, put forth the resolution.
About 120 people showed up to the celebration, including Watsonville City Councilman Francisco “Paco” Estrada, Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) trustees Daniel Dodge, Jr. and Jennifer Schacher and Cabrillo College Governing Board of Trustees member Steve Trujillo. A representative from the offices of state lawmakers John Laird and Robert Rivas was also in attendance.
Dutra, in a short speech, said the show of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community is a sign that “we have come a long way.”
“I am given so much hope for our future,” he said. “We are raising kids who are so accepting and full of love. I too am filled with gratitude for the amount of advocacy and support we have here in Watsonville for the LGBTQIA+ community. I have watched community leaders work tirelessly to make a difference. To leave our community a better place. We are so lucky to be able to raise the Pride flag for the month of June.”
Dutra also honored Pajaro Valley Pride, Queer Youth Leadership Award nominee Guillermo Mares Cervantes and Jen Salinas-Holz with proclamations.
Pajaro Valley Pride is a local organization that advocates for the local LGBTQ+ community, holds an annual Pride march in Watsonville and distributes scholarships for LGBTQ+ students heading to college.
Mares Cervantes was a standout student at Watsonville High School and now attends UC Santa Cruz. Mares Cervantes was nominated for the annual Queer Youth Leadership Awards, which recognizes local queer youth leaders and their allies.
Salinas-Holz is counselor in the PVUSD that advises four elementary and middle school Gay-Straight Alliance clubs and serves on the PVUSD LGBTQ Task Force, working to make schools more welcoming for LGBTQ+ students, families and staff.
The city joins fellow Santa Cruz County cities Santa Cruz and Capitola in flying the Pride Flag this month. PVUSD and several other school districts throughout Santa Cruz County also raised either the Pride Flag or the Progress Flag for Pride Month and Harvey Milk Day on May 22.
The Progress Flag is a rainbow flag that also incorporates brown and black stripes to represent Black and Indigenous people of color within the queer community, and pink, blue and white stripes to represent transgender youth.
Harvey Milk Day celebrates the memory of the gay rights activist from San Francisco who was assassinated in 1978.