Sacramento comes out
Annually, Sacramento’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) communities come together to celebrate—out in the open—at the Freedom Fair, a springtime gathering of diversity, acceptance and (of course) flamboyance. But it has been nearly 22 years, according to the folks over at the Lambda Community Center, since the capital city has seen a gay-pride parade. This year, that changes. The Freedom Fair has been renamed Sacramento Pride, and it will include a procession of floats, marching bands, music and even Mayor Heather Fargo as grand marshal. Twenty-five-year-old Lambda volunteer Marco Flores has been put in charge of organizing the parade. Flores, who is originally from Merced, began volunteering for the nonprofit Lambda center in 2003 and worked at last year’s fair. He was recently named to the center’s board of directors and is in charge of its youth groups. The Sacramento Pride event begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 11, on N Street just south of the domed Capitol building. Parade participants will strut west on N Street, south on Ninth Street and then west on T Street, ending up in Southside Park, where the fair is centered. For more information, visit www.sacramentopride.org.
What’s new with Sacramento’s GLBTI event for 2005?
When we started talking about pride this year, some people said, “We should have a float in the San Francisco parade.” Then we said, “Hey, we should have our own parade.” Some people didn’t know [Freedom Fair] was our pride event. They’re familiar with San Francisco Pride, San Diego Pride. We decided we would change the name, kind of come out of the closet—"Hey, why are we hiding this?”
How did you get handed the job of organizing the parade?
I’ve been in marching bands and parades since I was about 11—since sixth grade. I was in the Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh! until I graduated from Davis in winter 2004. So—
The Band-uh! Neat! What instrument do you play?
The trombone. Well, I’ve played a few instruments.
How did you get involved with marching bands and stay interested in them?
A combination of my parents’ influence—and you make a lot of friends. In college, it’s more like a fraternity. It’s kind of like your social network.
So, what makes a good parade?
There are different kinds of parades. So, when I think of a pride parade, I think of lots of people, flashy floats … just, lots of people coming together to support the community. Basically, going out to celebrate. It’s a celebration. I want marching bands. I want big companies like HP and Intel. I want to see small community groups. I want to see people in leather. I want to see lesbians riding bikes. I want to see diversity. … We don’t necessarily expect a whole lot of people to come out and see the parade. Everyone who’s interested is going to be in it.
What makes you want to volunteer at the Lambda center?
I had done community service through high school—I’m from Merced. I volunteered at an outdoors school … and in college, I kept thinking, “You know, I want to do something else.” I was 19 when I came out. … I’m a people person, I guess. You know, a lot of times here at the Lambda center, you’re working the front desk and the phones. … Every once in a while, you do get a call from somebody who doesn’t have anywhere else to turn … because coming out is a very traumatic experience—even now. It’s a personal experience. That’s basically why I started volunteering here.
How do you describe yourself?
I’m not what you think about when you think of a typical gay man. I don’t know. The term “straight acting.”
Tell me about when you came out.
When I came out, it was really because I had a girlfriend at the time—she’s a really great girl, we’re still friends. I had this really great girl, we were having sex all the time, and there was still something missing. Something was wrong. … I hadn’t been true to myself, and it wasn’t fair to this girl. It wasn’t fair to me. … I told women before I told men. I actually never had a bad coming-out experience, and I’m very lucky in that respect. My best friend, who was my roommate at the time—when I told him, he said, “Did you think it would matter?” I said, “Well, I don’t know.” He’s still mad that he wasn’t the first person I told.
So, what do you do when you’re not volunteering for the Lambda center?
Well, I worked for a litigation support firm in Davis. I actually just got laid off. … So, now I just have a lot of time to work on the parade.
Have you already convinced the Band-uh! to participate?
Oh yeah. I got them a while ago.