In 2020, the LGBTQ Pride flag was raised at Hollister City Hall and this year the ceremony was repeated. About 50 people attended the June 1 event, some waving small Pride flags or wearing rainbow themed masks as a show of support.
June was officially designated as gay and lesbian pride month by President Bill Clinton in 2000 in recognition of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York. In 2011, President Barack Obama extended it to include recognition of the bisexual and transgender community.
The Hollister event lasted about 15 minutes and included speeches from Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez, Councilman Rolan Resendiz, San Juan Bautista Mayor Leslie Jordan, San Benito County Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki, and Amy McElroy with the office of Assemblyman Robert Rivas. Hollister Councilman Rick Perez and Hollister Fire Department Chief Bob Martin Del Campo were also present.
Following the speeches, San Benito High School senior Aislinn Barnes, who was profiled in a BenitoLink article last year, raised the flag.
Two new flagpoles were commissioned by the city for $12,629, which includes labor, City Manager Brett Miller told BenitoLink. He added the city is working on an application for residents to request to fly a flag as well as an application evaluation process. The decision to accept or deny the request will be made by the City Council.
Resendiz said it was important to have youth such as Barnes participate in these events as they need to be empowered to pave the way for a brighter future worldwide.
Velazquez said that along with San Juan Bautista displaying the flag at City Hall on May 29, Gilroy and Salinas did the same on June 1.
“It’s time to let go of hate, start to embrace love and respect for everyone,” Velazquez said.
Resendiz echoed Velazquez and said it was a historic moment not only in San Benito County but throughout the region as cities were raising the Pride flag for the first time in their history.
Velazquez shared the story of when Resendiz brought up the idea to raise the flag at City Hall last year. The mayor asked him if he was ready to face the pushback.
“He said, ‘We are going to take this all the way, baby,”’ Velazquez said. “I’m with you 100%. You are absolutely right. I cannot thank him enough for leading our community.”
Velazquez told the gathering that the city will hold a block party on June 27. Resendiz added that the city will partner with the San Benito County Behavioral Health Department to have several information booths, music and raise the Pride again.
“Please come on out here, celebrate diversity and celebrate love,” Resendiz said.
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