Love is in the air at Downey’s Pride Festival

The Los Angeles Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse worked with the City of Downey to host a family-friendly pride festival for a third consecutive year.
People flock to the stage as Vicky Chavarria, 2022 Drag Latina winner, performs tribute to famed singer Selena Quintanilla.
People flock to the stage as Vicky Chavarria, 2022 Drag Latina winner, performs tribute to famed singer Selena Quintanilla.
Layla Hernandez

A vibrant, rainbow archway made of balloons welcomed guests in Downtown Downey as the city’s third annual Pride Festival took place on Aug. 26.

The festivities began at 3 p.m. and went until 10 p.m., with an after-party at Muevolo’s nightclub that lasted until 2 a.m.

At the heart of the event, the Warren High School dance team performed, tribute acts performed the songs of popular artists such as Jenni Rivera, Beyonce, and Selena Quintanilla, among many others.

Attendees stationed themselves towards the stage and spread as far as the nearby beer garden.

Somewhere over the balloon-made rainbow, festival goers strolled Downey Ave. as they supported local vendors and nonprofits. (Layla Hernandez)

Throughout the evening, organizers honored three leading LGBTQ figures: First was Congressman Robert Garcia, named the 2023 Downey Pride King, who fights to expand and protect essential rights for women, LGBTQ, and immigrants.

Second was Lucas Hallare, a Downey local named the 2023 Pride Prince revered for raising awareness about the issues faced by trans youth.

Last but not least was Mario Aguilar, who uses comedy and his social media platform to support and uplift the LGBTQ community.

The journey towards being able to celebrate in such a way has not come without difficulty, as Downey City Mayor Pro Tem Mario Trujillo shared.

“When Prop. 8 passed, Downey voted 62% in favor of having marriage be defined as that: between a man and a woman. So, my partner and I, at the time, thought ‘We have a lot of work to do.”

“The fact that there’s an openly gay elected mayor in town says a lot about Downey’s morals. It’s changed a lot. The way we’re embracing the community, it’s just beautiful,” Trujillo said exuberantly.

Friends, families and neighbors alike perused the colorful streets lined with local artisans and businesses, nonprofit information booths, food trucks and photo booths showing their pride.

Ashley Harris, a vendor at the festival and founder of the podcast “The Queerly Blax Show with Ashley” and “Queerly Blax Apparel” feels that representation for people of color within the queer community is of utmost importance.

“I think that all those minorities themselves are nuanced, right? So like being queer is nuanced, being Black is nuanced, and then depending where you fall on the spectrum as far as presentation is nuanced.”

“The pride in being successful that we carry, the burden that we carry… and so to bring them both together and for people to be like, ‘I feel seen, I related to that so much,’ that’s the most rewarding thing to me,” Harris explained.

The Los Angeles Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse, a nonprofit agency both in attendance at the festival as well as the presenter of each Downey Pride Festival thus far, advocates for the education, information and treatment of individuals who struggle with substance abuse.

Ricardo Torres, the center’s medicated assisted program director, highlighted the importance of recognizing LA CADA as a partner to the LGBTQ community through the services that they offer.

Trujillo continued to extend his passion for unity within the community and shared the importance of protecting trans youth.

“That’s my favorite part, celebrating the identity of these trans youth and letting them know they’re accepted because I really think that this pride is for them,” Trujillo said.

As the City of Downey and L.A. CADA look toward the future, the two hope to continue to grow what is already the largest Latino Pride in Southern California and establish a safe sense of community for the LBGTQ+ and their families.

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About the Contributor
Layla Hernandez
Layla Hernandez, Community Editor
Layla Hernandez is the community editor for Talon Marks covering the Greater Los Angeles area and its local culture. Outside of the newsroom, they can be found reading, writing, creating art, listening to music, or spending time with friends. Hernandez hopes to transfer in 2025 and travel writing about art and culture.
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