SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- June is Pride month and some festivals and parades are happening this weekend. But this year, the celebrations are arriving when anti-LGBTQ bills are making many American states less equitable.
The Inclusive Pride Flag was raised in Santa Rosa near Old Courthouse Square kicking off Pride Month. Stori Davis got emotional.
"I've been a Lesbian since I was 17 in San Francisco, it was easy then, not so easy now," she said. "We have to be more visible."
"I think it's important especially this Pride to really show up if you feel safe," Sonoma County Pride Vice President Grace Villafuerte said.
Sonoma County Pride kicks off this weekend, with a parade and festival celebrating the theme, community. This year, community couldn't be more important.
"Very serious threats are being made to the community, in my opinion, it's been steps forward and steps back every year," Villafuerte said.
Pride organizers are talking about 540 Anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced this year in state legislatures, according to the Human Rights Campaign. There are 220 bills specifically targeting transgender and non-binary people. Thirteen laws this year banned gender-affirming care for transgender youth. So far this year, 45 anti-LGBTQ laws have been enacted.
"We're very fortunate to live in California, where it's more progressive but it does give me pause to think about my trans brothers and sisters dealing with legislation," Forestville resident Julia McCollum said.
Sonoma County Pride organizers say they're making some big changes to this year's entertainment program.
"We actually added more drag, adding more talent because there's a lot of hate against the trans and drag community," Sonoma County Pride President Christopher Kren-Mora said.
Many say they refuse to be afraid. Inclusiveness, unity, and equity can be the real winner this Pride Month.
"It's nice to be a part of a community that's more involved...I don't know everyone here," Benji Shiell from Santa Rosa said. "I get to meet people when I go out, it feels safe."
The Sonoma County Pride Parade and Festival kicks off Saturday, June 3 at 11 a.m. in Santa Rosa.
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