With the turn of a handle, Councilman Dan Arriola raised the LGBT pride flag for the first time next to Tracy City Hall, commemorating LGBT Pride Month in Tracy on Friday morning before a crowd of city officials and supporters.
“This means so much to me and so much to the LGBT community. Having grown up in this town, I never thought there would be a day like today with all of you standing before me,” Arriola said.
The Tracy City Council passed a resolution at the June 4 meeting to agree to fly the rainbow flag on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that ignited the LGBT civil rights movement.
Tracy Mayor Robert Rickman read from a proclamation that the council unanimously approved at the June 4 meeting, which states that the city wishes to “Invite everyone to respect, honor and celebrate our diverse community and to continue building a culture of inclusiveness and acceptance for the LGBT community.”
Rickman told the crowd gathered outside City Hall that building a culture of inclusiveness would be an ongoing effort.
“Now, we have come a long way, but we still have work to do,” Rickman said. “On behalf of the council and the city of Tracy organizations, we want you to know we will continue to build trust. We see you, we hear you and we are here to serve everyone in our community.”
Arriola said the road to raising the pride flag had been fraught with personal attacks against him and the city, but he remained undeterred.
“What this moment in history says is that we as a community will stand up to it. In the city of Tracy we do not tolerate intolerance. In the city of Tracy we do not tolerate hate, and that is what we are here today for,” Arriola said. “Thank you for joining me to oppose hate and to oppose intolerance and to stand by love, because that is what we are here for today.”
Arriola told the crowd about the history of the Stonewall riots in New York that began June 28, 1969.
“I am proud to stand before you. I truly stand on the shoulder of giants. There are so many others before that made it possible for us to have this moment in history where I can stand before you and the city of Tracy could raise the pride flag,” Arriola said.
As the rainbow flag hung below the city flag, Arriola gave an explanation of the colors, including blue, which he said stood for harmony.
“Harmony is that moment, that standard that all LGBT people strive for,” Arriola said. “Because LGBT people do not want different rights, they don’t want more rights. LGBT people want equitable rights, LGBT people want equality.”
Cymone Reyes, interim director of the San Joaquin Pride Center, recounted the riots in San Francisco 53 years ago and in New York 50 years ago that began the gay pride movement and led eventually to Friday's event.
“No one would have imagined back then being able to stand next to city officials as our true selves today, let alone be invited to speak before them and the city,” Reyes said. “We have come a long way, but our work is far from done — but what a historic day for the city of Tracy.”
Arriola said he was proud to stand with members of the City Council and elected officials from throughout the region to celebrate the flag raising.
“To recognize LGBT people because we exist, we are here and we demand to be respected and treated with dignity, simply to love,” Arriola said.