FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — On Friday morning, the LGBTQ Pride flag was raised for the first time in history at Fresno City Hall.
It was a tense couple of weeks leading up to Friday after Mayor Jerry Dyer proposed creating a new free speech space to fly the LGBTQ Pride flag, only to reverse that decision after facing criticism from some city councilmembers and members of the Fresno LGBTQ community.
But on Friday all of that was put aside as the mayor and all city councilmembers minus Garry Bredefeld celebrated with hundreds as the Progress Pride Flag was raised above city hall.
The flag is a modern version of the traditional rainbow Pride flag which includes the widely recognized rainbow display along with colors representing those in the transgender community, LGBTQ people of color, and those who have died from HIV/AIDS. The event was emceed by Councilmember Esmeralda Soria.
“Today we send a message to all Fresnans,” Soria told the crowd. “We love you regardless of who you are, where you come from, the color of your skin, and who you love.”
Soria and the majority of City Council did not back down from making sure the Pride flag flew above Fresno City Hall on Friday.
It was a big day for Ray Quenga and his partner Rob Lomeli, and their two adopted sons. The couple says Pride has a special meaning for them. The family made a sign for the ceremony that read, ‘Because of Pride, we are a family.’
“For the longest time we knew we wanted kids but we didn’t know if it was going to be possible, you know, being a gay couple,” Qunga said.
Quenga hopes that Friday’s ceremony can give hope to LGBTQ people in the Central Valley who long for equality.
“We are just glad that today happened,” Quenga said. “There’s still a lot of work to do but it just gives hope to many that are looking to adopt as well.”
Local LGBTQ activists were honored, and the event was also attended by other political leaders, including Representative Jim Costa.
“Today’s a good day,” Costa said. “The fact that we would have the broad bipartisan support that’s reflected here.”
Civil rights activist and co-founder of United Farm Workers Dolores Huerta also attended to show solidarity.
“This is not just for Fresno alone, this is for the whole San Joaquin Valley,” Huerta told the crowd. “We’re going to catch up with San Francisco, we’re going to catch up with Los Angeles.”
The Pride flag is set to fly at City Hall for one week.