San Pedro’s very first LGBTQ Pride festival takes place on June 15. Organizer Aiden Garcia-Sheffield reveals what it took to make it happen.
BY VICTOR MELAMED
Aiden Garcia-Sheffield, 34, the organizer of San Pedro’s very first LGBTQ Pride festival, Pride On The Port, says the motivation to create the event stemmed from “a [homophobic] incident in our community that involved an LGBT citizen. The community quickly mobilized around the idea that we were better than what happened to this person. That resulted in a flag raising at a local welcome park – the LGBT flag to be exact.”
“Our councilman Joe Busciano co-hosted this flag raising with us, showing such great support and love,” reveals Garcia-Sheffield.
“When over 300 people showed up on to raise this flag we knew a community gathering to celebrate our diversity had to happen. You can be any race, religion, age, nationality on and on and on—and be LGBT+. The world belongs to the LGBT+ community because we belong to them. For us—this is about our pride as individuals, as the collective and for the greater appreciation of every single human—to celebrate love.”
“We deserve to celebrate and advocate in our own backyards. Even if you don’t come to our pride—check out the pride that may be in your neighborhood like Compton Pride, Santa Monica Pride, Venice Pride or DTLA Proud.”
Born in Savannah, GA and raised on a farm in rural community named Sylvania, Garcia-Sheffield currently owns a gender-neutral themed barbershop / salon named Underground in San Pedro. He lives in the Los Angeles Harbor with his husband of 5 years , Daniel, and his three Ben, Gatsby and Izzy.
“On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots—I want everyone to understand what we are accomplishing with this pride,” says Garcia-Sheffield. “We are creating a moment for the next 50 years. Major prides are so much fun and fabulous and I personally love going to them. Pride on the Port I believe is part of an emerging movement—to engage all members of the community. We deserve to celebrate and advocate in our own backyards. Even if you don’t come to our pride—check out the pride that may be in your neighborhood like Compton Pride, Santa Monica Pride, Venice Pride or DTLA Proud. Let’s show the community we are a part of that we are a part of them—that we intertwine more than we all realize. I truly believe these prides will lead to strengthening the next 50 years for the LGBT+ movement.”
Pride on the Port takes place on June 15. Chad Michaels, the legendary Cher Impersonator will be performing a tribute to “If I Could Turn Back Time” aboard the USS Iowa. “Part of our festival will be on an actual battleship,” reveals Garcia-Sheffield. “Thanks to the amazing gift of Dan Salas, owner of Harbor Breeze Cruises—we will be ferrying 300 festival goers on a 90 minute journey from Long Beach to The Los Angeles Waterfront aboard the Sir Winston – a 132 foot 5 deck mega yacht – complete with bar and DJ – we’re calling it the ‘Fairy Ferry.’”
Find out more about Pride On The Port at www.bridgecitiesla.com.