Santa Clarita is having a Pride-filled week, with several events celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. These events include local organizations like QueerSCV, PFLAG SCV and the SCV LGBTQ Center.
Kelly Ramnarine is the co-founder and president of QueerSCV and a member of several other LGBTQ+ groups in town that are organizing these events.
“We’re trying to do things that bring more visibility to why it’s amazing to be queer and… looking at all of the amazing things that come with being a part of this community,” Ramnarine said.
“PFLAG and the SCV LGBTQ Center are hosting a fundraiser at Rustic Burger and that’s going to be all day [today] on Wednesday, June 23… a portion of sales from that day are going amongst LGBTQ organizations [in town].”
Finley Walker, co-founder and president of the SCV LGBTQ Center, added that there will be an after party for Wednesday’s event. “[it is] from 9 to close, the after-party part is [21 and older]. There is going to be at least one drag queen [and] there will be a raffle.”
“Saturday, June 26,” Ramnarine continued, “we’re having two different events. At 1 p.m., QueerSCV is hosting a Virtual Pride, which will all be on Zoom.”
(You can register for that at QueerSCV’s Linktree. This event will include videos from local LGBTQ+ musicians, artists, resources, and businesses.)
“At 5 p.m. [on Saturday], Skating Mamas of SCV and the SCV LGBTQ Center are collaborating to do a Skate with Pride at Central Park.” This event also includes Black Love Skate Crew and PFLAG.
Before attending this event, Walker asked all attendants to “be sure to wear your favorite queer regalia if you want, as there will be a costume contest. We recommend you bring a picnic blanket and your own refreshments and snacks, sunscreen, water, money for donations and associated goodies, and whatever else you may need or want. Hope to see you there, and don’t forget to wear a mask.”
Anyone who doesn’t have skates is also welcome to come dance and hang out with the group in celebration, Walker added.
To conclude Pride month, Ramnarine talked about an event where participants can stay cool in their car. “Sunday, [June 27th], at 2 p.m. the LGBTQ Center is hosting a car pride parade… that’s going to be a small four mile drive, starting and ending at Bridgeport Park.”
Kaleidoscope, where Ramnarine is program coordinator, will be having a Pride Party on Instagram Live on June 30. The last event of the month will be the QueerSCV Movie Club, who will be having a watch party for the film “Whip It” on July 1.
One event that will continue through the end of Pride month and into July is a donation drive she described as a “binder drive.”
“[Some community members] are going to raise money to buy binders and, at the same time, collect requests for free binders… if they get [over their amount], they’re going to donate any extras to The Okra Project… they will be taking requests until July 7 and then all of the binders should be distributed by the end of July.”
(You can find a calendar of all of the combined events of each LGBT group in Santa Clarita here.)
Anyone unable to attend any of the Pride events is always welcome to join regular meetings of each of the aforementioned LGBTQ organizations.
“PFLAG meets the fourth Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. and that is for a general support group meeting,” Ramnarine said. “It’s open to families, allies, LGBTQ folks. QueerSCV [does] at least one event a month. Recently, we’ve been doing our events on the first Thursday at 7 p.m. and third Sunday at 6:30 p.m…. By September, there will be a LGBTQ teen meet-up group through the Santa Clarita Public Library that will happen at least once a month, if not twice a month… COC Gay-Straight Alliance is actually open to community members, alumni and students… and that is currently every other Wednesday. Then when school starts up again it’ll be every Wednesday. Beyond the Binary is the local trans and non-binary meet-up. That is every other Thursday at 7 p.m.”
Ramnarine started QueerSCV, she said, in an effort to create a place where members of the LGBTQ community could feel at home. The organization’s first meeting was in December 2018.
“It started as my wife and I were trying to find other LGBTQ friends in Santa Clarita without having to drive to West Hollywood… We started QueerSCV to try and build a community.”
Out of Isolation
For Ramnarine, the pandemic was a challenge for her and QueerSCV’s leadership, including Vice President Ritchie Hagen, Secretary Amanda Ramnarine and Board Members at-Large Oli Kooner and Natalie Hyde.
“Santa Clarita can be isolating if you are part of the LGBTQIA+ community anyway,” she said. “When COVID hit… we immediately stopped all of our in-person events. I went a little bit nuts the first month or so, like a lot of people did, and I started doing quizzes on our social media… Everyday, I would put up a three-question ‘Queer Quarantine Quiz’ and there was a lot of engagement with it.”
Although events moved to a virtual platform, community members still felt involved.
“We hosted a Trivia Night on Instagram Live, which was really fun, and then Zoom became a thing and we started doing our events [there]… when we first started doing our Zoom meet-ups, we were doing something almost every weekend and sometimes multiple times a week, like movie nights, quiz nights… we continued [our] book club.”
She also noticed something positive that came out of having group get-togethers online.
“We got a new wave of [members], who before may have been too timid to go to an LGBTQ event… that was kind of a cool thing that being online offered that being in person didn’t.”
Hagen decided to get creative during lockdown while keeping LGBTQ members engaged, and this came in the form of a zine. Hagen serves as its lead editor.
“Queerantine began when the pandemic hit, we were essentially still trying to have community without being in person,” Ramnarine said. “So the first [edition]… is a collection of stories, writing about the LGBTQ+ experience during the quarantine. There’s mindfulness exercises, there’s a word search, there’s comics in it… it really ended up being a very cool, collaborative community art project.” QueerSCV reached out to the community for input on the project. “We put a call out on social media for anyone with any art or writing about their experience in the pandemic.”
“Because the pandemic was still happening, and now it’s been a year since we did the first one, we decided to do a second one.”
This second edition includes many of the same contributors from the original zine edition.
Anyone interested in picking up a copy of the newest edition of Queerantine can find Ramnarine at several of the upcoming events, or an online copy is available on QueerSCV’s website.
As COVID-19 restrictions have lowered in Los Angeles County, groups in Santa Clarita hope to slowly get back to pre-coronavirus activities. QueerSCV and other LGBTQ organizations are slowly transitioning to in-person events again, with things still mainly staying virtual.
“[We are] just overjoyed about everything and being able to do in-person events again without the amount of fear that there has been for more than a year,” Walker said.
Tips? Leave a message with The Santa Clarita Valley Proclaimer: (661) 463-3228