Seismic shift may be the best way to describe the political/social landscape. The shift showed up in the Eastern Sierra with COVID, came back in spades with Inyo County’s proclamation
recognizing indignities done to Native Peoples and then again this week with the reaction to Inyo’s proposed proclamation of June as Pride Month. Change is uncomfortable for some and a necessity for others.
Following three-plus hours of comments and Board discussion, Inyo’s Board of Supervisors
approved the proclamation with a 3-0 vote. Supervisor Rick Pucci was absent, Supervisor
Jennifer Roeser abstained. Supervisor Jeff Griffiths acknowledged the “rich tapestry of people”
in Inyo County, adding “we celebrate them all.” Supervisor Matt Kingsley looked “forward to
the day when we don’t need a proclamation, that we’re just inclusive.” Chair Dan Totheroh said
differences don’t mean one is good or the other bad.
Public comment was close to 2-1 in favor of the proclamation; letters submitted and read by
Assistant Clerk of the Board Darcy Ellis were nearly 3-1 in favor. Perhaps the most salient
comment came near the end: “California is the gayest state in the Union; why is this a thing?”
An older Lone Pine resident talked of having to play the tough guy in Inyo County. His deepest
regret, following the death of his partner, was never being able to “hold his husband’s hand in
public.” Gunner Davenport-Conway teared up as she tried to explain the need for the
community to feel safe and welcoming.
Some comments questioned the funding source for the Eastern Sierra Pride Festival scheduled
for June 4-5 at the TriCounty Fairgrounds. Leslie Chapman, Inyo chief administrative officer,
explained the funding source, Community Project Sponsorship Program, has “been around for
decades.” The program funds fishing projects, annual events and, this year, $34,000 divided
among seven competitive grant applications, one of which was the Pride Festival.
To put this in historical perspective and to answer a few of the questions brought up during
public comment: Pride month is celebrated in June to acknowledge the Stonewall Uprising in
New York City in 1969. The gay community in Greenwich Village responded to a police raid at
the Stonewall Inn; a year later gay pride marches were held in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles
and San Francisco. Now Inyo County joins that tradition.