Community celebrates inaugural Pride week with festival


Don Agustin, left, and Karen Wong, right, celebrate El Camino College’s first Pride Fest Tuesday, May 14. Photo credit: Mari Inagaki

Updated Tuesday, May 28, at 10:31 a.m. due to misspelled name and missing title

An array of colorful balloons, some shaped like hearts, decorated the Library Lawn Tuesday, May 14, at the inaugural El Camino College Pride festival that celebrated the LGBTQIA+ community.

Before festivities began, Salvador Navarro, First Year Experience (FYE) program counselor who coordinated the event, spoke to the crowd.

“We are here today to celebrate our LGBTQIA+ students, for their historical efforts for equality,” Navarro said. “As well as to provide an opportunity for all communities regardless of your sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity to come together as one in a day filled with love and lots of fun.”

Salvador Navarro, an EC FYE counselor, and EC student Jayla Dawn, co-host the first El Camino Pride Fest on the Library Lawn Tuesday, May 14. Photo credit: Rosemary Montalvo

Jayla Dawn, member of the Gender Sexuality Alliance Club co-hosted the event with Navarro and informed the audience that Pride wouldn’t be possible at EC without the Stonewall Riots.

In 1969, patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay establishment in New York, stood up against constant police harassment. The riots catapulted what would be known as the Gay Rights Movement, Dawn said.

“Sometimes when we are celebrating Pride we forget,” Navarro said. “Yes it is about the fun and coming together but it’s about acknowledging all the other generations before us who fought for us to be here today.”

Navarro’s continuously riled the crowd, whose reaction got louder each time.

El Camino College President Dena Maloney gives a speech during the El Camino Pride Fest Tuesday, May 14. This is EC's first time celebrating pride. Photo credit: Mari Inagaki

On stage American Sign Language interpreters from Purple Communications translated the speeches given.

When a space provides an inclusive environment for its community, it is important to make accessibility for a diverse array of bodies within that community which could include deaf and disabled bodies, ASL interpreter from Purple Communications Day Heisinger-Nixon said.

EC President Dena Maloney also spoke about inclusion and the importance of the event to the college.

“El Camino College is a place where we believe students belong and succeed,” Maloney said. “But in order for our students to succeed–our campus must exemplify respect and acceptance.”

After introductory speeches concluded, the podium was moved so that students from the EC Fashion Department were able to perform.

They took turns cat-walking into center stage as the audience cheered.

The EC Salsa Club also put on a show where they presented three couples who salsa danced to Marc Anthony songs.

Drag Queen Jazlyn Alezae performs to Ariana Grande's "Focus" during the El Camino Pride Fest Tuesday, May 14. Pride Fest held other performances by the ECC Student Fashion Show Production Class Models and ECC Salsa Club. Photo credit: Mari Inagaki

The main attraction of the evening was drag queen Jazlyn Alezae, who took the stage as the crowd erupted.

Alezae wore a lilac wig with a pink outfit designed with a colorful sparkled decor. After a swift outfit change, Alezae wowed the crowd doing a cartwheel and splits as Alezae performed to Ariana Grande’s “Focus,”

After the performance, Alezae took photos with people in front of a Pride decorated wall that was set up for social media photo-ops.

Colored hearts that carried historical LGBTQIA+ information were overlaid around the poles in front of the Library Lawn.

Twenty-eight booths occupied the space, some of them were student clubs, some were EC resources and others were off-campus organizations like the South Bay LGBTQ Center.

Free pizza and refreshments were given to students that stopped by every booth and collected all of the stamps during the El Camino Pride Fest Tuesday, May 14. Photo credit: Mari Inagaki

People who visited those booths were given a stamp card and free pizza and lemonade were rewarded to those who collected two stamps.

“We have resources, we have activities, we have support, “Sara Leinen, an adjunct faculty member for the English Department, advisor for GSA and co-coordinator of for the Pride event said. “Whatever students’ need know they are loved holistically, that is what we have here today.”