Modesto center for LGBTQ people will offer ‘safe spaces’ during Straight Pride event

A Modesto group announced Thursday it will provide “safe spaces” to LGBTQ people during the Aug. 24 event planned by the National Straight Pride Coalition.

The board of the Central Valley Pride Center decided on that response after a Wednesday evening meeting that overflowed its D Street offices in Modesto.

The board and audience discussed holding a counter-protest to the Graceada Park event, which a separate group already is planning at nearby Enslen Park.

The board ended up voting in closed session to make its building available from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the day of the Straight Pride gathering.

“We encourage other community organizations, companies and individuals to join us in rejecting hate in our community,” board president Jo Sisemore said in an online letter to “the people of Stanislaus County.”

The center, also known as MoPRIDE, provides support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer residents and their allies.

The main organizers of the Straight Pride event are Don Grundmann of Santa Clara and Mylinda Mason of Modesto. They have not yet secured a permit for the event, planned for noon to 4 p.m.

Grundmann and Mason said earlier this week that the coalition promotes traditional gender roles, Christianity and patriotism.

People at the MoPRIDE meeting noted that the Straight Pride website also cites “whiteness/caucasian” as a key component of Western civilization.

“It’s hate pride, not straight pride,” one audience member said.

A few cautioned that a counter-protest could lead to violence from Straight Pride supporters. Others said the event is mostly about their craving for attention.

Several of the 80-plus people at the meeting told of their own struggles against LGBTQ bias in their families and the wider community. They also said they will stand strong if the Straight Pride event indeed gets a permit.

“It is a matter of human decency,” one man said. “It’s a matter of being a human being, and that’s not what these people are.”

John Holland covers breaking news and has been with The Modesto Bee since 2000. He has covered agriculture for the Bee and at newspapers in Sonora and Visalia. He was born and raised in San Francisco and has a journalism degree from UC Berkeley.