Berkeley proud and LOUD at Pride celebration Sunday

Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, community leaders and residents celebrated Berkeley Pride 2011 Sunday at the David Brower Center with an evening of musical and theatrical performances and video presentations by members of the LGBT community.

The program, Making it Better, was in support for LGBT youth and featured Worthington as Robin Hood and comedian Marga Gomez as masters of ceremony for an evening designed to inspire and entertain the audience.

The band Know Jazz opened the event with smooth jazz tunes followed by the musical group Ball and Chain who performed several original selections. A member of Assemblymember Nancy Skinner’s office  presented a certificate  to Berkeley Pride for its work in promoting equality and LOUD (Loving Ourselves Uniting Diversity) Youth Group and Pacific Center Youth Program Coordinator Mark Wilson presented an oral history video recorded history lesson about the progress of the gay rights movement as told by elders in the community.

ASUC Senator Andy Albright, who spoke briefly at the event, said he was happy about the number of people who came out to show their support for the event.

“This is why I love this community,” Albright said. “There is diversity. Age diversity, gender diversity and race diversity. Coming from a very white conservative town, I didn’t get this when I was growing up so its nice to see this now.”

The event was sponsored by the city of Berkeley in conjunction with various community businesses including Phil’s Sliders, who provided the food for the event. This year’s theme is a spin-off on the Make It Better Project, a series of videos posted on YouTube with messages telling youth in the LGBT community that they are not alone, according to Worthington.

Randi Klabbatz, a middle school student and a member of LOUD, joined the group at the Pacific Center because it is a place that she said makes her feel safe and where she can be herself. By spending time talking to the elders who participated in the video series, she said she has learned that coming out often gets easier with time if you have people who support you.

“There are so many different shades of Pride,” she said. “This forum gives the youths an opportunity to speak out.

Pride Day is celebrated in Oakland and San Francisco. Berkeley is the only place that does not have a celebration, according to Worthington. He said participation has dwindled in the last few years but that he is hopeful that the success of this year’s event will mean the community can look forward to a bigger splash next year.

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