Thursday: The debate over flying the Pride flag in the Central Valley.,


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The State Capitol in Sacramento is illuminated to celebrate Pride Month.Credit…Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee, via Associated Press

Good morning.

Across much of California, you might not blink at a Pride flag flying outside a home, business or civic building. A proclamation honoring Pride Month by elected officials? Usually not breaking news.

But there are places in the state where the raising of the rainbow flag has become, like so many things, a source of partisan political conflict.

That surprised Jewel Hurtado, a 22-year-old City Council member in the Fresno County hamlet of Kingsburg, who in May proposed that the city recognize Pride Month with a proclamation and by flying the flag.

“My story isn’t any different from anyone else’s in the Central Valley — that’s why I brought this Pride proclamation to the table,” Hurtado, who identifies as bisexual, told me. “I know these experiences and lived struggles.”

The response from conservatives, who voiced their opposition to the move in an hourslong public comment session, drew widespread attention from local media and advocacy groups.


Members of the public gave comments in favor and in opposition to a proposal for Kingsburg to recognize Pride Month.Credit…City of Kingsburg

And while Hurtado has gotten used to pushback for her initiatives as a young, Latina progressive in a shifting region increasingly seen as a political battleground — she helped campaign for Senator Bernie Sanders during his presidential race — she was taken aback this time.

“I did not expect this to be on the news,” she said. The proposal failed.

The episode also caught the attention of Dr. Carole Goldsmith, the president of Fresno City College, about 24 miles northwest of Kingsburg, where Hurtado is set to graduate this week.

“I thought, ‘That’s one of our students,'” Goldsmith told me.

Goldsmith is the first openly gay president of the college, which, she said, was the first community college in the state — a vast system that has more than two million students at 116 colleges. The system does not grant admission based on grades or other academic requirements as the California state universities do.

For Goldsmith, that means drawing on her own history, growing up in the Central Valley and, she says, “feeling othered,” to make the school welcoming to all.

“I know what it’s like to feel like people hate you because of who you are,” she said. The Pride flag, she said, “serves as a symbol of hope and inclusion.”

So she talked with fellow education leaders and members of the State Center Community College District’s board, who passed a resolution encouraging all of its schools to raise the flag.

Fresno City College held a ceremony to do just that, for the first time in its history, on June 4.

At the ceremony, Hurtado spoke about her experiences. So did Goldsmith, who spoke of being kicked out of her house for a few months during her senior year of high school.

“A lot of hurtful things were said,” she recalled to me this week.

In the audience that day was Fresno’s mayor, Jerry Dyer, a Republican and former police chief.

At that moment, Dyer was embroiled in a controversy over his suggestion that the Pride flag fly at a nearby plaza instead of City Hall, because, as he wrote in a Facebook post, it had “the potential to alienate those who do not support that particular cause.”

L.G.B.T.Q. community members, including Goldsmith, saw that proposal as a half measure that denied their full humanity.

“What I ended up learning as I spoke with the L.G.B.T.Q. community is that it was offensive,” he told me this week.

He asked Goldsmith if she would mind if he attended the Fresno City College event.

“Story after story — it broke my heart,” he said. “I cried for most of the ceremony.” Not long after, Dyer, who is open about his born-again Christian faith, spoke with L.G.B.T.Q.-affirming clergy.

“I cried through most of that, too,” Dyer said.

And so, he reversed course.

On June 11, the Pride flag flew over Fresno’s City Hall for the first time.

Dyer said that he’s been accused of allowing political considerations to motivate his change of heart.

“I’m hoping that leaders — regardless of their political status or their religious views — will recognize that there are populations within our community that feel excluded and left out and not represented,” he said. “It’s so important that we as elected leaders listen.”

Hurtado, the Kingsburg council member, said she was encouraged to know that her words helped move the mayor.

And she hopes that the shift in perspective is lasting.

“The way I see it is he’s fulfilling a campaign promise to make ‘One Fresno,'” she said. “And I hope he continues to do it.”

For more:

Read about the origins of the Pride flag and an exhibition aimed at telling queer California’s untold stories.

Catch up on The Fresno Bee’s reporting on the decision to fly the Pride flag at Fresno City Hall.

Here’s what else to know today


Farmworkers at Cedar Point Nursery in California. The owners of the nursery said letting unions have access to their properties amounted to a government taking of private property without compensation.Credit…Pacific Legal Foundation

In a case related to a unique state regulation, the Supreme Court ruled against allowing union organizers to recruit agricultural workers in the fields, reversing a major achievement of the farmworkers’ movement.

Britney Spears told a Los Angeles courtroom that she desperately wanted to end the conservatorship that has overseen her life for the last 13 years in a bombshell speech on Wednesday.

Californians who signed a petition to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom have been allowed to withdraw those signatures. The Secretary of State’s office announced on Wednesday that out of 1,719,900 verified signatures a whopping 43 were withdrawn. (That means the recall election is still happening.)

The sisters of Sean Monterrosa, who was killed by the police, have emerged as part of a new wave of Latinos fighting police brutality, CNN reports.

Nicole Santa Cruz, the lead reporter of The Los Angeles Times’s “Homicide Report” writes about the lessons she’s learned from covering hundreds of homicides.

A skydiving instructor linked to the death of a first-time sky diver in 2016 in Lodi has been arrested on federal charges, The Sacramento Bee reports.

Many restaurants in California, faced with a severe shortage of workers, are being forced to cut operating hours or leave tables open, The Associated Press reports.

As the pandemic upended Hollywood, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Haylie Duff and Becca Tobin made a pact to abandon Los Angeles and join the mass migration from California to Texas.

I wish I wrote this headline on a piece about research at the University of California, Santa Cruz: “When an Eel Climbs a Ramp to Eat Squid From a Clamp, That’s a Moray.”

In other fish news: The Times did a “deep dive” into whether Subway’s tuna fish is really, well, tuna fish.

Angelenos felt a 3.2 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter about two and a half miles from El Segundo late Wednesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. “Earthquake!” everyone tweeted simultaneously.

And finally …


Demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd in June 2020.Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

Pride Month is a good time to reflect on how language has evolved over decades to reflect identity. One example: Dr. Carole Goldsmith of Fresno City College, who is 56, said she’s only recently begun identifying as queer, when she is “feeling particularly powerful.”

The term was once exclusively derogatory.

And over the last year, reckonings over racism have prompted discussions about how to talk about race and ethnicity more accurately and with nuance.

My colleagues want to hear your thoughts about the shifts. Tell us here.

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.