Life

Aly Kim & her friends have been celebrating Pride in Monterey for decades

Aly Kim, right, with her friends JT and Gwen
Aly Kim, right, with her friends JT and Gwen Photo: Aly Kim

For Aly Kim of Monterey, California, Pride in the seaside town famous for John Steinbeck, Cannery Row, and nearby Pebble Beach in Carmel offered an added attraction in 2022: a reunion among friends more than 40 years in the making.

Aly, JT, and Gwen got to know each other in 1980 before the Monterey Peninsula had a Pride celebration. The only gay bar in the area, After Dark, hosted Monterey’s first Pride event in 1993 — behind closed doors.

Three years later, the LGBTQ+ community came out for a public celebration.

“Monterey’s gay community leapt into the spotlight during Monterey’s Gay Pride March and Festival this past June 8th and 9th,” read the lede in the peninsula’s only gay publication, The Paper. “The two events drew over 1,000 locals and visitors in this, the first public gay pride festival in Monterey County.”

The theme of that year’s inaugural public Pride event: “Conquering Invisibility.”

Coverage of the celebration led two local TV newscasts and earned front-page stories in the Monterey County Herald and Monterey Times.

“Two hundred lesbians, gay men, and gay-friendly supporters walked down the sidewalk of Lighthouse Ave. from Reeside to David and back,” The Paper reported. “Flags in the colors of the gay flag shone brightly in the late afternoon sun.”

Thirty years later, Monterey Pride brought Aly and her old friends back together again.

Aly Kim, right, with her friends JT and Gwen
Aly Kim Aly Kim, right, with her friends JT and Gwen

Not long after they met, Aly moved to San Francisco, where she spent 35 years away from the area’s white sand beaches and Cypress trees — and JT and Gwen.

The group reconnected at Monterey’s 2022 March and Festival.

JT continues to make “good trouble” in Monterey, Gwen supports the town’s local artists in the Seaside neighborhood, and Aly is happy to be back south where their friendship started all those years earlier.

“And here we are reconnecting,” Aly told LGBTQ Nation, “at Monterey Pride!”

Pride in Pictures is LGBTQ Nation’s annual series celebrating Pride across the country. We asked our readers to send in their pictures and stories of Pride and we got so many rainbows. Keep an eye out for more heartwarming stories to get you ready for Pride Month 2024.

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