LGBT+ center has quickly become a ‘Source’ of PRIDE
By Paul Myers
visalia – Just over a year ago, The Source opened its doors to some rather unexpected fanfare, hosting 450 visitors to their small 450-square foot office space in Montgomery Square in downtown Visalia on the first night. Now they have managed to put together a strong board, gather thousands of dollars in grants and expand their office space by renting the 450-square foot office next door. But they are going to take things a big step further.
Last year the founders of The Source, Nick Vargas and Brian Poth, hoped to hold a PRIDE Visalia event at Plaza Park. They rented six tables, had some refreshments and posted the event online. But it was not until after they got their permit that they realized that they drastically underestimated how much space they would need. Originally they expected 100 people to be interested, on the high end. But after the Orlando nightclub shooting that killed 49 people and wounded 53 others last June, more than 400 people were expected to turn out. Without enough time to relocate or find the resources to accommodate 400 people, Vargas and Poth were forced to cancel the event.
“We were brand new and we had a couple of board meetings at that point…and we heard that if you don’t do it right, it’s very hard to get these permits again,” Poth said in an interview in March.
But this year they have plenty of space and plenty of participants. According to Vargas, they have reached 10,000 people with advertising on social media and over 5,000 people have indicated they are interested in going.
“It’s really a time for us to give the community what they want, which is a festive PRIDE celebration,” Vargas said. “We’ve got a lot of people saying they wanted to be involved and want to donate their time and talent.”
This year, instead of holding it at Plaza Park, The Source moved their location to the Old Lumber Yard in downtown, 300 E. Oak Ave. The event will have something for everyone and be family friendly with face painting, a kid’s zone and photo booth. It will start at 10 a.m. and go till 6 p.m. According to Vargas it will be small scale PRIDE event like they have in Los Angeles or San Francisco.
For entertainment they’ll play host to some well known local bands, have food trucks on hand and a beer and wine garden. Also, Vargas will be officiating a wedding during the event. He said that this is a couple he has known for quite some time and they have been together for 13 years and have adopted two daughters already. The only thing they have not done is tie the knot.
Apart from the festivities, Vargas said that he wants to take some time honor the other PRIDE Visalia events of the past. While this year PRIDE event will be the biggest that’s been held in Visalia, The Source wants to recognize the similar events that came before it like Family Fest and PRIDE in the Park.