Under the watchphrase Together Making Strides, this year’s Pride by the Beach event marked a full decade of North County LGBT civic festivity.

It was rainbows, pink unicorns and flamingos, venus and mars gender symbols, American flags, Día de Muertos skulls, colorful booth canopies, tie-dye shirts, face-painting, balloons and carnival food. It was also the participation of over 100 diverse groups, including LGBT groups from all over the county, healthcare providers, churches, civic organizations, and vendors. Attendees got acquainted with community resources, as well as being entertained with music and educated by community speakers.

The stage presentation was hostessed by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. This year’s Pride was dedicated to active Trans service members at nearby Camp Pendleton, who face career uncertainty in the current political climate.  Local dignitaries on hand to support the event itself included Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery and City Council member Jerry Kern, and Encinitas City Council member Tasha Boerner Horvath. Musical entertainment was headlined by American Idol finalist David Hernandez, followed by folk-hop singer/guitarist Shea Freedom, pop/hiphop group Girlboy, and alt mod rock group Lunden Reign. For the more musically inclined attendees, karaoke was available.

Special guest Stuart Milk of the Harvey Milk Foundation ( spoke of his international work, particularly in India and Peru, saying “Two-thirds of the world live where it’s still dark for the LGBT community”. At the same time, he noted positive LBGT relations with the US armed services, when he appeared this past summer as a speaker at a US military community event in Vicenzo, Italy. And he reminded the crowd of the simple power of their visibility and authenticity, saying “What you’re doing here in Oceanside matters”.

One special section of the event was set aside for LGBT youth. This included GSA groups from Palomar and Miracosta Colleges, Carlsbad and RBU High Schools, and even Valley Middle School. Previously known as “Gay-Straight Alliances”, these student-initiated and run groups now refer to themselves as “Gender and Sexuality Alliances” ( They provide a safe place for students to discuss their issues, address bullying, hold social events, and bring their presence to school activities.

Max Disposti, Director of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center, notes how the annual event has outgrown several venues over the past ten years.The first Pride was held at the Beach Community Center, then Betty’s Lot just south of the pier, and now its current location at the Oceanside Civic Plaza. The Resource Center was initially concerned about uncertain community support and religious community protest. But over the years, the city of Oceanside and Unitarian, Catholic, Methodist, and Episcopalian Churches have become allies.

Pride Director Shannon Rose, and “Rose’s Army” of volunteers and sponsors contributed their time, labor, and products to make the event a success. Estimated attendance numbers have increased from 800 in 2008, to 2500 in 2010, to 4000 in 2013 to 7000 in 2016. Pride by the Beach’s growth over the past ten years is, more than anything, a tribute to their spirit of community.

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