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First African-American lesbian lawmaker to speak at Women's Pride Brunch

SAN DIEGO – History-making politician Simone Bell will be landing in America’s Finest City to speak at the 11th annual San Diego Women’s Pride Brunch on Saturday, July 16.

Bell is the first African-American lesbian to serve in a U.S. state legislature and recently won re-election to her seat in the Georgia state House of Representatives.

“I ran for office so that I could bring together all of my passions toward social justice and human rights,” Bell said. “I’ve worked in the LGBT community for many years. I also worked in health care for more than 10 years. I’ve been an organizer in my neighborhood around affordable housing, elder issues, youth empowerment, etc.

“I’ve also been out since I was 13 years old,” she added. “Running for public office was very organic to the journey I was on.”

Bell is one of three openly gay members of the Georgia legislature. The lawmaker lives in Atlanta with her partner, Valerie Acree.

Bell has spent her entire career fighting for equality and when asked if she planned to address any issues that might directly affect the LGBT community while she’s in the legislature, she didn’t mince words.

“My viewpoint is that ALL politics affect the LGBT community,” Bell said. “I don’t subscribe to single issue politics. Doing politics from that framework is counter to being effective as a legislator. However, currently there is a piece of legislation that is in the very early stages, sponsored by my colleague, Rep. Karla Drenner, that seeks to provide workplace protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees. I’m a co-signer on the bill and will work to see it become law.”

Women's Pride Brunch precedes Pride Parade

The San Diego Women’s Pride Brunch will kick off the Pride Parade for 150 guests at Saigon on Fifth at 9 am Saturday, July 16. The annual brunch will be raising money for the Victory Fund, a non-profit group that assists in getting LGBT officials elected to public office throughout the country.

“We know that when we have a seat at the table the conversation changes,” said Susan Atkins, one of the organizers for the event and the chair of the Victory Fund board of directors. “There’s a lot of things that you can say about gay people when they’re not standing in front of you and when they’re not important to you to get your legislation passed.”

Bell will give a short speech that will be followed by a raffle and auction to benefit the Victory Fund and its future campaigns. Bell’s speech will outline her life and how she became a fixture in Georgia’s political landscape.

“I will tell my story of moving from an organizer and activist in the LGBT community, to running for political office to fight for the rights of all people,” Bell said.

As serious as the Victory Fund is about their mission to reach equality for all LGBT people, they’re also getting ready to have some serious fun while getting their Pride on.

“The whole idea of the brunch is to just have fun. We’re a quarter of a block away from the parade route, the whole idea is to have breakfast, to be with your friends and have a short and inspired speech,” Atkins said. “We do everything we can to make this a really rip-roaring good time for everybody.”

The brunch will begin at 9 am and continue until 11 when the parade gets moving down University to Sixth. There will be an auction for a Caribbean cruise on Olivia Cruises as well as a two-night stay at the Lodge at Torrey Pines. There will also be a raffle for everyone who attends to have a chance to win a couple’s massage at the Catamaran Resort.

Organizers are hoping this year that their attendance will exceed 150 people. This is no small feat for an annual tradition that started out as just 15 to 20 lesbians who all were involved with the Victory Fund and all attended the Pride parade as a group. It became a tradition to get brunch before the parade started and every year it’s gotten bigger and helped raise more donations for a great cause.

“San Diego has always come out in force for the Victory Fund,” Atkins said. “San Diego has a higher percentage of female donors to the Victory Fund versus males than any other city in the country and we think it’s because for the last 11 years we’ve been doing this brunch. It’s not separatist though, we always include men. They enjoy it and we enjoy having our honorary lesbian brothers attend.”

The details

For ticket sales and sponsorship information go to victoryfund.org or check out Victory Fund on Facebook.