June is Pride Month, a time dedicated to honoring and achieving equal justice and opportunity for LGBTQ+ Americans. It is an observance of the Stonewall riots in 1969, but also a celebration, with cities across the country hosting marches, parades and other events.
Santa Cruz Pride’s annual parade was held Sunday. Among its participants were members of Pajaro Valley Pride (PVP), an organization aiming to support South County’s LGBTQ+ community.
Newly elected PVP president Danielle Elizalde and vice president Raudel Covarrubias were on hand, carrying their group’s flag together as they led them down Pacific Avenue.
Elizalde is taking on the role of president after a long history of activism in Watsonville. She participated in the very first Watsonville Pride in the early 2000s, and has been involved in PVP for years, acting as the organization’s marketing coordinator. Covarrubias has also been an active member of PVP for five years.
“It felt like the right moment for me and Radual to step up and become the new president and VP of the team,” Elizalde said, “It feels really full circle. Being able to see the growth in not only our group but in the community as well.”
Elizalde says she and Covarrubias are looking for ways to expand the organization and get more people involved. They are currently in the process of finalizing their nonprofit status, which has been on hold due to Covid. This will help the group financially by allowing them to apply for grants.
PVP’s main goal, Elizalde said, has always been to open a resource center in Watsonville.
“I really want to provide more resources … anything that could be helpful to our community,” Elizalde said. “Such as, name change workshops for trans people who want to change their name and/or gender. We want to provide support while also having fun, throwing parties and socials. We want to do both for our community. People need both.”
They are also looking for additional members.
“We’re definitely looking for more committee members to join us,” she said.
This month PVP is fundraising for their annual march and celebration on Aug. 21. It will be the first in-person Pajaro Valley Pride since 2019, when it moved from Watsonville Plaza to the YWCA on East Beach Street. This year’s event will once again be held at the YWCA, who allows the group to use the venue free of charge.
“It’s a great location, and we got lots of great feedback last time,” Elizalde said. “The YWCA is fully supportive of us … we are really grateful.”
More fundraisers are ongoing and being planned for June and July. For the third year, Watsonville’s Fruition Brewing has released a specialty beer, Pride Snack, with a portion of proceeds supporting PVP. They also created a special PVP pin, and plans to sell more merchandise this month, with all proceeds going to the organization.
On June 25 the brewery will host an all-ages Pride party, with burlesque and drag performances, a maker’s market, contests and prize drawings. In July (date TBD), the Slough Brewing Collective and Santa Cruz Cider Company will also host a fundraiser event for PVP.
Elizalde also highlighted the PVP Scholarship, an educational scholarship open to LGBTQ+ or allied students enrolled full-time in Pajaro Valley Unified School District. The deadline for this year’s application has been extended to July 1.
“I really feel positive in the direction our group is moving,” Elizalde said. “We have a lot going on, and we have a lot of support. It’s amazing. We hope more people will join in.”