SAN JOAQUIN DELTA College commemorated the beginning of Pride Month recently by raising a Progress Pride Flag over the Stockton campus for a second year in a row.  

“I modeled a flag-raising resolution written by multiple members of Delta College Pride Coalition, after a similar resolution that was written to have a land acknowledgment before our board meetings,” said Kirstyn Russell of the Delta College Pride Coalition during the June 1 ceremony.  

After receiving approval from the college board on the flag-raising resolution, June was designated as Pride Month. “This was actually inspired as a reaction to a Pride flag that was burned at Cabrillo College,” Russell said.  

The Progress Pride Flag flies over San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton on June 1, 2023, to mark the beginning of Pride Month. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

An LGBTQ Pride flag was found burned at Cabrillo College’s Watsonville Campus on March 5 last year. The burned flag was replaced by a larger Pride flag two days later. 

The June 1 flag-raising event in Stockton consisted of speeches from administrative staff, LGBTQ staff and faculty group and a student speaker, alongside raising the flag. Dr. Ricky Gutiérrez-Maldonado, the program manager at Delta College overseeing Pride Center, and Vice President Austin Chavez delivered the welcome address and acknowledgement remarks on behalf of the college administration.

The power of persuasion 

Eddie Carrillo, a Delta College student, spoke during the event about the importance of having LGBTQ+ drug treatment facilities funded by San Joaquin County. Carrillo said he wrote the speech for his public speaking class for an assignment about persuasive speech, which he eventually delivered at the Pride flag-raising event.  

The Pride Center at San Joaquin Delta College features graphic art by LGBTQ artist Celine M. Pham. The center provides advocacy and support services for LGBTQ students and works to improve campus culture. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Carrillo’s advocacy for LGBTQ+ safe drug treatment space comes from his personal struggle with substance abuse growing up in Stockton. 

Carrillo said he was raised by immigrant parents with beliefs he referred to as traditional, Latino religious. “I didn’t have the self-courage, right at that young age, to tell my parents that I was gay,” Carrillo said.  

As he grappled with issues around his identity, Carrillo found solution in substance abuse. “Unfortunately, in San Joaquin County, there’s a lot of those substances, you know, and there’s not a lot of support, to recover from the substances for people in our community,” he said. 

Carrillo started a petition for funding LGBTQ+ drug and alcohol treatment centers in San Joaquin County and has collected 125 signatures so far.

Harika Maddala is a photojournalist based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. They are a Report for America corps member and a CatchLight Local Fellow.