Tag Archives: PRIDE

June 6- June 12 | 9th Annual San Mateo County PRIDE Celebration

Please join the PRIDE Initiative, our sponsors, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, the BHRS, Office of Diversity and Equity, the SMC PRIDE Center, the SMC LGBTQ+ Commission and our Community Partners for the 9th Annual San Mateo County PRIDE Celebration June 6th-June 12th. This will be our second mostly virtual event. The Purpose of the Annual PRIDE Celebration is to promote health and wellness among the LGBTQ+ Community. To Build a sense of community. To provide info about behavioral health services. Help individuals in marginalized communities seeking services. To provide a free LGBTQ+ positive, sober environment for San Mateo County.

This year’s event will consist of a week-long series of Workshops centered on issues important to the LGBTQ Community and ending on Saturday with a Grand Finale filled with entertainers from our Local Community from 11-2pm, streamed live from the PRIDE Center Facebook page in partnership with PENN TV. So far some of the workshops include a return of the Queer Author’s series which is a collaboration of the SMC LGBTQ+ Commission and SMC Public Libraries. This year the Queer Author’s Series is featuring author George M Johnson with their book All Boys Aren’t Blue: A memoir manifesto on June 9th at 6pm. The SMC PRIDE Center is offering a workshop A Road Map, Tips and Tools for people who identify as Transgender or Gender Non-Binary on June 10th 6-7:30 pm.

The PRIDE Center is offering a SOGIE Training for Community Members on June 7th 6-8 pm. Kaiser is offering a workshop with an Expression Specialist from their Gender Clinic to offer people who identify as Transgender and Gender Non-binary tips on everything from how-to put-on makeup, how to dress and how to walk etc. on June 10th 6-7:30 pm. The Office of Diversity and Equity Health Equity Initiatives will be holding an informative outreach workshop on June 8th 7-8 pm.

On Saturday we will be having our Grand Celebration filmed live at SMC PRIDE Center and streamed on the PRIDE Initiative Facebook page featuring MC Jesus U Betta Work, the return of favorites like local rap artist Aima the Dreamer and the Youth Drag Group from Cappuccino High School the Rebel Kings and much more. To link to our full schedule of events, to register and to stream our Grand Finale go to www.SMCPRIDECelebration.com.

Written by Zachary Comtois, PRIDE Initiative Co-Chair

Out Run Special Screening Inspires LGBTQ+ Advocacy


Out Run Directors S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons

On the evening of Friday, September 8th, 2017, the San Mateo County Pride Center was abuzz with over 60 community members and allies arriving for a special screening and Directors’ Q&A of the highly acclaimed documentary Out Run.

Directed by S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons (photographed right), Out Run follows the campaign trail of three members of the world’s only LGBT political party, Ladlad, as they aim to earn seats in the Philippine Congress. The film particularly highlights Bemz Benedito, a fierce community advocate who, along with her fellow queer political organizers, campaigns widely across the Philippines with dreams of being the first transgender woman to represent in Congress. Bemz and her Ladlad visionaries went from small-town hair salons to regional beauty pageants to advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ community across The Philippines and to mobilize working-class LGBTQ folks in the fight against their main opponent, a homophobic evangelical preacher. Read more

Pride Center’s Suicide Prevention Month Events

pridecenterThe risk of suicide is high among the LGBTQ+ community. For example, the rate of suicide attempts is 4 times greater for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth and 2 times greater for questioning youth than that of straight youth.

San Mateo County Pride Center is here to help the LGBTQ+ individuals with clinical and community resources. #BeThe1To attend or share the Suicide Prevention Month events happening at the Pride Center.   #SMCPrevention

If you know a LGBTQ+ youth facing a mental health crisis, call The Trevor Project (1-866-488-7386), Trans Lifeline (1-877-565-8860) or Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).
Read more

Sharing Our Gender Pronouns

Gender PronounBy Sylvia Tang, Community Health Planner
By Siavash Zohoori, Storytelling Program Specialist
Since February 2017, Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) staff have added gender pronouns to our e-mail signatures and started introducing ourselves in meetings with our gender pronouns.

Why is this important?
It is important for us to share our pronouns because we cannot know someone’s pronoun just by knowing their sex or the way a person looks or sounds.  And accurately using a person’s pronoun is a basic way to validate and respect one’s gender identity.

While I am usually addressed by my correct pronouns (She/Her/Hers), I know many transgender and gender non-conforming individuals do not have that same privilege. On a daily basis, many of our clients/consumers, family members and community members feel invalidated and disrespected by individuals and institutions because they were not correctly addressed with their pronoun. This is especially concerning since sexual minorities are more likely to have substance use and mental health issues compared to sexual majority counterparts, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

What can you do?

Whether you are a working professional, student or community member, you can add your pronoun in your e-mail signature or add your pronouns to your name tags (see image). Read more

San Mateo County Celebrates Pride

Pride post collage

San Mateo County community members celebrate pride with the raising of a flag, live music, energetic speakers and a ribbon cutting ceremony.


This past June was Pride month and San Mateo County had a whole lot to celebrate with our fifth annual Pride event and the historic grand opening of the county’s very first Pride Center.

The Pride Initiative held the annual LGBTQ+ Pride event at San Mateo Central Park on Saturday, June 10th. This year’s theme, “Still We Rise,” inspired by Maya Angelou’s 1978 poem, “Still I Rise” was meant to remind us of the need for solidarity across all communities.

This year, for the first time, the Pride flag was raised along with the American flag in the center of the park at the commencement of Saturday’s celebration. Entertainment included poets, musicians, dancers, martial artists and even an open mic, showcasing talent from the community.  Approximately 700 people came out to celebrate.

When the PRIDE initiative originated in 2008, it was the first county sanctioned LGBTQ+ entity in San Mateo County. In a testament to the advances made by our LBTQ+ community and allies, the county proudly kicked off Pride month with the opening of San Mateo County’s very first Pride Center.

Nearly 500 community members gathered on June 1st to celebrate the grand opening, complete with a ribbon cutting, dynamic speakers and live music.

Located at 1021 S. El Camino and 11th  Ave. in San Mateo, the Pride Center combines direct behavioral health services, such as counseling, peer support, and case management, with community support and services. The center is a safe space and welcomes everyone.

The Pride Center is a collaboration with Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, funded through the Mental Health Services Act. The Center is operated by five partner organizations: StarVista, Peninsula Family Service, Outlet of Adolescent Counseling Services, Daly City Partnership and Pyramid Alternatives.

For more information about the Pride Center call 650-591-0133 or email info@sanmateopride.org. For more information about the PRIDE Initiative, check out their website at www.smchealth.org/pride.

Lisa Putkey, Jei Africa and Regina Moreno contributed to this article.



The Office of Diversity and Equity Receives a Special Recognition

On Friday, October 21st the San Mateo County Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) received a special recognition from Outlet, a program of the Adolescent Counseling Services, for the work that ODE is engaged in creating health equity for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQQ+) community in the peninsula area.


“My team and I together with our partners and youth leaders work tirelessly and creatively to bring discussions of inequities, disparities and injustice front and center in our work,” said Dr. Jei Africa, Director of ODE.

Outlet’s Annual Out to Eat Celebration and fundraiser event included a fun and inspiring program with renowned speakers and advocates such as Sid Espinosa, former Mayor of Palo Alto, who after a string of teen suicides in the city became increasingly focused on the city’s youth programs and teen mental health issues and Michelle Honda-Phillips, the mother of a 10-year-old transgender daughter and 8- and 11-year-old cisgender sons, who focuses much of her time advocating for transgender and gender non-conforming youth.

A part of the evening celebration was dedicated to recognizing the achievements of two organizations, the San Mateo County’s Office of Diversity and Equity and Santa Clara County’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs.  “The past couple of years have brought great strides setting a strong foundation to help build upon for more awareness, effective and sensitive services, and an overall expectation of equity on all fronts for the San Mateo LGBTQ+ community. It is an honor to work with and be a part of this movement with you!” said Anthony Ross, Outlet Program Director.

Dr. Africa shared about ODE’s work, through the PRIDE initiative, focused on addressing the barriers LGBTQ communities face with seeking behavioral health care services including, sponsoring the first ever PRIDE celebration in San Mateo County in 2013 and the near future launch of the LGBTQ Coordinated Services Center, the first of its kind in California, a one-stop-shop for a variety of resources and supports for LGBTQ families and individuals… “The Center has been a dream for many people, like me, who felt very invisible growing up. The goal of the Center is not only to provide a safe space but to acknowledge that we exist, we are important and we are loved,” said Dr. Jei Africa.

To learn more about the work of ODE and the PRIDE initiative visit, http://www.smchealth.org/ODE.