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Local non-profit focusing on Latinx community at Santa Maria Pride

Posted at 7:50 PM, Jun 09, 2023

Santa Maria Pride Festival is back in person this Saturday for the first time since 2019.

One local group, House of Pride and Equality (HOPE), is focusing on providing an inclusive space at this year's event for the Latinx community — a community that makes up a majority of the population of Santa Maria.

House of Pride and Equality is a dedicated group that encourages Santa Maria to strive for equality for all members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“It’s refreshing. It’s exciting," said Suzette Lopez, the president of House of Pride and Equality. "We’re done being cooped up at home and we’re just excited to bring the community a day event again."

Lopez prides herself on being active in her community and has a strong desire to see it thrive.

This year they are reaching out to the Latinx community in hopes of creating a more inclusive environment.

“I think because it might be underrepresented at times, especially in this area, so it’s one of those ones that we can make sure we’re giving them a focus, as well as the entire community," said John Shade, House of Pride and Equality board member. "But bringing a big focus on that part of it, and showing the Latinx community that this a place they can feel comfortable just like everybody else."

While some traditional family values have played a role in not accepting the LGBTQ+ community, that can be especially true in some Hispanic families.

“I grew up in a very Catholic home. Mexican home," said Lopez. "You know, so the fact that HOPE was able to be there for me in my time of need and now we’re able to give back to those in need as well is very rewarding."

The nonprofit's mission is to help end discrimination, internalized phobias, and stereotypes that often keep people isolated from others.

“We get a chance to bring the celebration of love out to them, and also be able to… How can I describe it? Really focus on how people feel internally and to let them express themselves the best way possible,” said Shade.

“A Celebration of Love” is the theme for this year's 5th annual Santa Maria Pride. Santa Maria Pride takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 10 and admission is free.