June is Pride Month, and CoastPride kicked it off in a big way on June 1 with the grand opening and official ribbon-cutting of its new community center in downtown Half Moon Bay.

The center, at 711 Main St., is an LGBTQ+ community space representing diversity on the Coastside. The purpose of the center is to provide a place where both young people and adults can gather. It will also contribute services for LGBTQ+ teens and adults — and equally important, become a visual symbol of LGBTQ+ pride here on the Coastside.

The grand opening event brought speakers to the podium, including organization board members Jenny Walter and Jeanne Vargas, volunteers, government officials, and even the landlord of the building, Joe Cotchett, who, as a strong community supporter, is reducing the rent for the organization. The speeches all contributed to the core message of what the organization is about: acceptance and inclusion for all, but even more than that, pride.

That pride was demonstrated toward the end of the ceremony when the new Pride flag was raised for the first time in front of the center. The Pride flag, redesigned by Daniel Quasar in 2018, adds five new colors to the rainbow flag. It now features a chevron with the colors black and brown to show it’s time that Black and brown people are included; pink, white and blue stripes are a nod to the Trans Pride banner.

I was listening to a podcast interview with former President Barack Obama last week. In it he said he believes, “The world is healthier, kinder than any time in human history.” After this past year of the pandemic, racial injustice and our country’s huge political divide, my first thought was, “Can he be serious?” But standing with the crowd at CoastPride and seeing the work of community leaders and volunteers to make the world a better, kinder place right here at home, I was filled with hope.

— Debra Hershon

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