The month celebrating the LGBTQ community is almost over but there is still time to show your Pride. This June marks the 50th celebration of Pride, which began one year after the Stonewall riots in Manhattan.

Pride is as much a celebration as it is a reminder of the lives lost. For Olivia Garrison, the challenge is finding a balance between the two mindsets.

"I want to be reminded that people less privileged than me fought for what's right," Garrison said. "I think Pride is a revolutionary act. By being proud of being LGBTQ-plus in general you get to tell your story."

Garrison usually travels to San Francisco to celebrate Pride but with the current pandemic, she and a group of friends created their own event in Bakersfield: Oleander Pride Cruise. Closing out Pride Month, this small celebration will show participants the historic neighborhood is an LGBTQ-friendly area.

"Pride is like a holiday for queer people," Garrison said. "It recharges my batteries."

Set for Tuesday, the first Oleander Pride Cruise will allow people to celebrate safely while social distancing. Throughout June, the residents of the Oleander-Sunset neighborhood have been encouraged to decorate their houses or sidewalks to show support for their LGBTQ neighbors, friends and families. Participants can either walk or drive through the area to see the decorations. There's no admission but Garrison encourages people to donate to the local Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity.

"We want to show that our neighborhood wouldn't be the same without that LGBTQ-plus presence," Garrison said.

The Bakersfield Museum of Art is also making sure to offer its own Pride celebration. Last year, the museum partnered with The Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity for its Art After Dark gathering, hosting an evening of Pride fun with a drag show, cocktails, face-painting and more.

Curator Rachel Magnus and the museum staff wanted to diversify attendees and make everyone feel welcome.

"Representation is essential and in order for a cultural institution to be effective it must reflect the whole community," Magnus wrote in an email. "The museum board and staff made a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion across all departments and Art After Dark has allowed some of the most immediate representation and celebration of marginalized groups."

Since large gatherings are still off-limits, the BMoA staff pivoted this year, planning a nine-day social media campaign focused on Pride.

Starting Thursday and running through July 3, the museum's Instagram and Facebook pages will offer daily posts highlighting a specific person, cultural tradition or art movement with the intention to illustrate history through local representation, Magnus said.

With this online experience, Art After Dark will show examples of the intersectionality of the LGBTQ experience through contemporary artwork, historical materials and local stories, Magnus said.

"Now more than ever, it is crucial to remember that Pride began as a protest to stand up for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community which has historically underrepresented BIPOCs, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color," Magnus wrote.

Bowen West can be reached at 661-395-7660.

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