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PRIDE of South Bay Carl Robinette | Sat, Mar 23 2013 12:00 PM

The South Bay Pride Art and Music Festival will make a comeback this fall with its new location after being cancelled last year by South Bay Alliance, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group that produces the event.

Formerly just South Bay Pride, the event has outgrown its familiar grounds at Memorial Park in Chula Vista and has been moved to Bayside Park to make room for more entertainment, more businesses and a bigger crowd.

“We wanted to create a celebration, not just for the LGBT community, but for LGBT allies as well,” said Dae Elliott, chair of the alliance. “It helps create a sense of community.”

The festival was created in 2006 when the political debate over same-sex marriage became highly charged across the country. At that time there was a belief among South Bay leaders that there was not a large enough LGBT population for same-sex marriage to become a local issue, said Elliott.

The goal was to create a way to raise awareness among local residents, businesses and politicians that there is a substantial LGBT population in the South Bay.

“The idea was to bring everybody together once a year,” said Marci Bair, the festival’s founder. “To bring people together socially, politically and for business.  And getting LGBTs in South Bay to realize that they are not alone and there is a community.”

The LGBT population in South Bay is estimated to be between 6 and 7 percent of the area’s total population, said Elliott.

The alliance was also formed in 2006 to build a platform for the LGBT community and its allies in South Bay to network, promote their businesses and raise political awareness.

“To hide is to give a voice to people who want to put out their pejorative distractors,” Elliott said about her motivations for producing the festival.  “Plus it’s just fun.”

The festival is set for Sept. 14 this year, but organizers last spring made the decision not to host the 2012 festival after three board members left the alliance for a variety of personal reasons.  Short-handed and facing a host of other challenges, organizers realized they would not have time to pull it all together.

“It was sort of a culmination of multiple things going wrong in the lives of multiple people,” Elliott said about the cancellation.  “You really have to be ready by March to make an event like this happen.”

With the goal of regaining lost ground from last year’s absence, organizers are planning a bigger, more diverse event for 2013.

Initially only taking in about 200 attendees in its first year the festival grew to about 1,400 in 2011, and it is expected to top that number this year as the Port of San Diego granted them a permit to host up to 2,000 people.

The port is also currently reviewing an application for sponsorship of the event which would waive the $2,500 permitting fee for nonprofit use of the park, said Tanya Castaneda, public information officer at the Port of San Diego.

While the festival is still in the planning phase, the alliance is currently seeking funding, volunteers, local sponsors and performers.

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