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Past honored in 10th year of Davis Pride

FourLeap2023
Gloria Partida, left, Jessica Uzarski, Yolo County Supervisor Lucas Frerichs and Mily Ron jump for joy after volunteers complete the rainbow crosswalk painting in downtown Davis on May 30, 2023. This year’s painting will be from 6 to 9 a.m. on Sunday, May 26 around Central Park in Davis. (Courtesy photo)

By Wendy Weitzel

As the Davis Phoenix Coalition marks its 10th year of Davis Pride activities next month, its members also want to honor those who painted that rainbow road.

Pride celebrations in Davis go much deeper than a decade. Every June from 1996 to 2006, local LGBTQ+ activists Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac coordinated the Yolo County Lesbian and Gay Picnic Day. After it took a hiatus, the event was revived in 2015 by the nonprofit Davis Phoenix Coalition, which rebranded it as Davis Pride. Rising from its origins as a single-day event with 500 participants in the 1990s, it has become a monthlong June celebration, drawing close to 10,000 people. These participants come from all segments of the local population, happy to gather in support of LGBTQ+ rights.

This year, highlights include the Davis Pride Community Fair and Music Festival, an after party, a fun run, skate night, comedy night, and plenty of drag.

Gloria Partida founded the Davis Phoenix Coalition in 2013 after her son, Lawrence “Mikey” Partida was brutally beaten in an anti-gay attack. She and other organizers started Davis Pride with the idea of a fun run, and added a family-friendly festival for the whole community.

Despite successes like the federal legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, they knew Davis Pride would be controversial. She saw what Bailes and Pontac went through. “They had a lot of pushback when they were doing the work,” Partida said.

ShellyEllenWedding06162008
Shelly Bailes, left and Ellen Pontac were the first same-sex couple to marry in Yolo County in 2015. (This shows a June 2008 ceremony that was later nullified). Pontac died in 2020 but her wife was honored with the city’s 2024 Brinley Award for service to the community. (Jenny Rihl/Davis Enterprise photo)

Bailes and Pontac were the first gay couple to legally marry in Yolo County in 2015, a ceremony happily performed by then County Clerk/Recorder Freddie Oakley. Pontac died in 2020 but her wife, now 83, was honored with the city’s 2024 Brinley Award for service to the community.

Same-sex marriage is no longer as controversial. Today, the attention is on transgender people, with right-wing groups protesting drag shows, public bathroom access and more. “Now we see that we’re in this spot basically 20 years later, and we’re still fighting the same fight,” Partida said. “We are seeing those same things – but in the trans community.”

This year’s theme is “Davis Pride – Because Yolo County is for Everyone!” It follows the Davis Phoenix Coalition’s recent lawn sign messages “Davis is for Everyone” and “Yolo County is for Everyone,” to counter the far-right actions experienced in the community.

The 10th annual Davis Pride Community Fair and Music Festival has a new location this year: Civic Center Park, at Sixth and B streets. The community-focused, family-friendly event includes a music festival, resources, vendors, food, drinks and more – from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 1.

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Vocal percussionist and Davis native Butterscotch will be the headline performer at the Davis Pride Community Fair and Music Festival on Saturday, June 1 in Civic Center Park in Davis. (Courtesy photo)

Headlining the musical lineup is Davis native and vocal percussionist Butterscotch, a Season 2 finalist on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” They will perform at 3:15 p.m. At 2:30 p.m., co-headlining the Sutter Health Main Stage will be Willie Gomez, from Season 24 of NBC’s “The Voice.” Gomez is an accomplished Latin music artist and has been a backup dancer for Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, among others.

Other performances include Silicon Valley’s Josh Diamond, the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus, Team Davis Singers, and the always popular Drag Revue. There will be activity zones for children, teens and seniors.

After the festival wraps up at 5, revelers are encouraged to continue to the inaugural Davis Pride After Party, which will be from 6 to 11 p.m. on G Street, between Second and Third streets, downtown. That portion of the street is a pedestrian zone. DJ Mellax of Davis Rave Co. will spin dance tunes. Patrons may purchase food and drink from downtown Davis establishments.

The next day is the Run for Equality, starting at 8 a.m. on Sunday, June 2. It includes a 5K and 1K run/walk from Central Park, at Fourth and C streets. The run is the fundraiser that makes the festival possible. Registration is $25 until May 28 and $30 after. Visit https://www.davispride.org/run.

The following Saturday, June 8, is Skate with Pride. The free night will include a disc jockey, disco lights and food trucks from 7 to 9 p.m. Skating will be under the Davis Farmers Market Pavilion in Central Park, Fourth and C streets, downtown. Participants bring roller or in-line skates and wear colorful attire, skating to lively music. Attendees may participate in a drawing for prizes.

The fun continues Friday, June 21 for Davis Pride Comedy Night, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Stonegate Country Club, 919 Lake Blvd. Presented by Laughs on the Lake, tickets are $40 through June 2, $45 through June 20, and $55 on June 21. Visit https://www.davispride.org/comedy to see the lineup and purchase tickets.

On Thursday, June 27, Davis Pride plans a Drag Trivia, from 6 to 9 p.m. at a location to be announced. Trivia is $15 to enter. Visit https://www.davispride.org/trivia for location and registration information.

To set the tone for Pride month, volunteers will paint rainbow crosswalks around Davis’ Central Park between 6 and 9 a.m. on Sunday, May 26.

The Davis Pride committee is happy to help businesses show their colors and promote their pride events for June. Email [email protected].

June is International LGBTQ+ Month. Davis Pride events are coordinated by an all-volunteer community formed by the Davis Phoenix Coalition, a nonprofit that works to foster diversity, eliminate intolerance, prevent hate-motivated violence, and support LGBTQ+ youths in Davis and surrounding communities. Proceeds fund the coalition’s anti-racism and anti-bullying campaigns, support to LGBTQ+ youths and their families, and outreach with area police departments, churches and schools. To donate, go to https://davisphoenixco.org/donate.

For more information about the event, or becoming a sponsor or volunteer, visit https://www.davispride.org/. Volunteers are especially needed for the run. Gift cards will be available to those who work as run route monitors. To learn details as they unfold, follow Davis Pride on Facebook and Instagram.

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