Riverside’s First LGBTQ+ Pride Event since 2009 Attracts Over 2000 Attendees
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RIVERSIDE, CA – September 12, 2022 – In early 2021 a new PRIDE organization was formed in Riverside, California with the mission of elevating and illuminating the LGBTQ+ community, and a goal to bring a large-scale PRIDE event back to the Inland Empire. After almost 2 years of grueling work, planning, hurdles and challenges – the inaugural Riverside’s Inland Empire Pride™ festival rocked the Riverside Municipal Auditorium on Sunday, Sept 4th, 2022.
Despite a record heatwave bringing Riverside’s hottest day in history, more than 2,000 attendees flocked to the auditorium to celebrate their truths and find community while enjoying food, dancing, live entertainment and exhibitors from around the Inland Empire.
“For a first time event, we are over the moon with how it went,” said Ray Yu, President of Riverside LGBTQ+ Pride Inc., “We were so happy to see that our hard work over the last year brought so many people together to celebrate unity and love.”
For others the event was a chance to show Riverside that they belong to the community:
“In a city that has never had a real LGBTQ+ center, I wanted people to see that we're here, and that we're real members of this community.” said Jasper Moon, an attendee and volunteer. “It was really important for me to see an event that could bring our community together as one, and create something that the entire community could enjoy.”
Jeri Savarese of Free Mom Hugs and a member of the LGBTQ+ community said, “It was absolutely wonderful having Pride in the Inland Empire. My hometown showed up in a big way.” When asked about what she expected when she first heard about the event, Savarese said, “I imagined it was going to be small with a few hundred or so attendees. The fact that there were over 2,000 people in attendance shows that these community events are truly needed. I met so many families that drove over an hour to come to this event.”
Youth Zone sponsor representative, Rafael Gonzalez from the non-profit organization Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance said it was important for the organization to get involved with the event.
“Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance has served the Inland Empire for over 20 years. We believe that our youth deserve a brave space in which to celebrate PRIDE and be themselves without having to hang out in beer gardens and big crowds of adults. The Youth Zone was filled with youth and their families all day long so we know it was appreciated. It was great to partner with the Riverside's Inland Empire Pride Festival.”
One of the main attractions of the event was the entertainment lineup which almost exclusively consisted of local LGBTQ+ acts, including a 12-woman dance troupe called Sirens from the local Rhythmbeatz Dance Studio. The troupe’s 20 minute high-energy non-stop dance set stunned the audience and drew a roaring applause from the crowd.
“Still on a high from our Riverside Pride performance!” Lead dancer of the troupe, Cherry Lee said on her Instagram account not long after the event. “I’ve been on stage hundreds of times and still get butterflies. I absolutely love how dance allows for expression in so many ways! It’s a gift to be able to make people feel the celebration of this event through dance!!!”
The day's events culminated in a thunderous finale from local drag stars, Jazmyn Simone-Echelon, Nebeur Styles and Athena Kills, hosted by local Rupaul’s Drag Race star Mayhem Miller.
“Performing in front of that many people felt amazing because it was like performing for your family at a picnic. Just love love love,” said Simone-Echelon. “I attended the first Pride in Riverside years ago as a fan of Drag, where Rupaul was the headliner and [she] actually pulled me on stage to walk SUPERMODEL with her, it was life changing. Now I was one of the headliners this year. It was amazing.”
When host Mayhem Miller challenged the audience to prove who was more excited, the floor and walls of the auditorium literally shook from the crowd’s response.
“We had just had a mild earthquake the day before,” said a guest who was in the audience. “Every time the crowd reacted, I literally thought we were having another one.”
What’s next for Riverside LGBTQ+ Pride?
“Rest. For a month.” said President Yu, “then back to work fighting for acceptance and equality. That’s year-round work for us.”
Riverside Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Pride, Inc. (aka: “Riverside LGBTQ+ Pride” or “Riverside Pride”) is a volunteer-directed 501(c)(3) non-profit charity working to inspire, educate, commemorate and celebrate and support our diverse Inland Empire community. For more information about Riverside LGBTQ+ Pride, contact Troy Yu at (951) 554-0783 or gro.E1664905131Iedir1664905131Pedis1664905131reviR1664905131@yorT1664905131 .