SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- One of the first celebrations of June Pride Month is kicking off in the North Bay. The theme of 2023 Sonoma County Pride is "Community." Organizers say it's essential, in wake of the list of anti-LGBTQ laws nationwide that are putting equality at risk.
Pride was on full display in downtown Santa Rosa Saturday, with a huge crowd showing up for this year's parade.
"I love all the people that are here to show our community love. We should all have a sense of belonging. That's why we're here," said Santa Rosa Mayor Natalie Rogers.
Kaptain Bine brought his young daughter.
"She needed to get outside. She lives for this. I live for this. Awesome moment to have fun together basically," Bine said.
"This parade, this everything, is a celebration of the fact that we have come so far and have a long way to go," said Ember Smith from Santa Rosa.
Many believe there's a new sense of Pride and unity this year as some states seek to diminish equality.
The Human Rights Campaign says 540 anti-LGBTQ Bills have been introduced in state legislatures in 2023.
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"The anti-Trans laws, anti-LGBTQ are strong in other parts of the country. It's important we stand up and show support and be yourself for our LGBTQ community, especially youth," said Herman Hernandez from Los Cien Sonoma County.
"My 13-year-old is marching. She's questioning her sexuality. We're all celebrating her this year, all excited to do that," said Alyssa McDonald from Santa Rosa.
Sonoma County Pride organizers this is the likely the biggest event they've ever hosted. Safety and Security measures have been increased to keep everyone safe.
"More and more we have to have these events to show people we are here. Rights are still being threatened. Also to encourage others to celebrate and come out," said Sonoma County Pride VP Grace Villafuerte.
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Here and now, many say the meaning of Pride is still shining bright and can't be tarnished or erased.
"Pride means a lot of things. To me, being able to show up authentically, showing Queer or Trans joy, just being whoever you are, that's what it means to me. It's really important," said Heather Bailie from LGBTQ Connection.
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