Throughout the month of June, a rainbow flag celebrating the LGBTQ+ community will fly over Gilroy City Hall, continuing a tradition that began in 2021.
To mark the Progressive Pride flag’s first raising of the year, a small gathering of city officials and other community members gathered on the lawn June 1 to say a few words about the significance of the flag.
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.
“We’re here this morning to celebrate inclusive communities, to encourage acceptance, to provide the relief from the hurt, and to make people feel welcome,” Mayor Marie Blankley said.
Blankley stressed the importance of people being themselves, and not trying to be someone they’re not just to please others.
“Whether it’s being part of the LGBTQ community that subjects you to judgment, or ridicule, or discrimination, or whether it’s because of gender, ethnicity, height, weight, disabilities, disfigurements, or even that you speak your opinions, the only way to make yourself proud is to live anyway, being true to yourself, even with all that baggage that some of us will carry our whole lives,” she said.
Per Gilroy’s commemorative flag-flying policy at city hall, those wishing to display a flag must gather 150 signatures from registered voters in the city, and if successful, must receive city council approval. Signatures are required every other year if a group applies annually.
Chef Carlos Pineda of Gilroy thanked those involved in submitting the petition to raise the flag, including Gilroy Chamber of Commerce CEO Victoria Valencia and YMCA Executive Director Andrea Nicolette.
“The movement to bring inclusivity, equality and diversity is never over,” he said. “We will continue to advocate and educate to ensure every community is a safe space for everyone today, tomorrow and in years to come.”
Pineda added that the flag serves “as a beacon of hope and safety for the Gilroy community.”
“I will continue to be true to myself, living unapologetically and unashamed, so I can lift and empower those around me to do the same,” he said.
Gilroy City Councilmember Zach Hilton said this year’s flag also includes black and brown stripes to represent LGBTQ+ communities of color, along with pink, light blue and white, which are used on the Transgender Pride Flag.
“We raise the flag is to heighten awareness of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, as well as celebrate diversity, equity, social justice and inclusion,” he said.