Sacramento Pride: Plenty of rainbows, but no water. What’s up with that?

Lizzo performed under a brutal heatwave at Sacramento Pride and a young girl, probably 17 or so, fainted in front of me. She wasn’t the only one. All afternoon long, the drag queen on stage kept exhorting us to “drink water” and “stay hydrated.” I just wanted to scream at her, “but there’s no water!”

There was no water. No water for all the gays. No water for our straight allies. And no water for the masses of teenagers who now come to gay pride as a rite of passage.

It wasn’t due to a lack of trying on our end.

All hydro flasks had to be emptied at the gates. But then there was no water station inside the festival to refill the bottles. The food trucks along the mall couldn’t sell water either. In order to get water, we had to first stand in line under a blistering sun for at least twenty minutes just to buy tickets. Then we had to wait in an even longer line to use the tickets to actually buy drinks. I waited close to an hour to shill out $5 dollars for a plastic bottle of water so small that I needed three.


Sacramento Pride was like Death Valley with no water, all underneath a sun that was frying us alive.

My plea for change is not to discount the beauty of the volunteer work that makes Sacramento Pride, and every Pride around the world, possible. Thank you for honoring our history and instilling hope for the future.

Drew Altizer

Sure, I understand that granting exclusive beverage rights brings in a higher revenue, making it possible to book acts like Lizzo. But, at the risk of retreating to stereotypes, I so sorely wish there was a bossy gay man at the negotiation table who drew a line at the beverage monopoly. Someone who snapped his fingers and said, “Nope, I’m sorry. I’m not having people pass out at my party from heat exhaustion.” Or, I wished there had been a sensible lesbian who said, “The people need water. We can grant you exclusive alcohol rights, but our people need water.”

Please. Someone – anyone – take into account the needs of the actual people who come to support pride. Because there’s something so fundamentally unkind about inviting good-intentioned people to a paying event, subjecting them to a brutal environment (the summer sun in Sacramento is no joke) and then denying them a fundamental human right: water

Provide courtesy water filling stations. Or, allow the food trucks to sell water. Don’t restrict water sales to one vendor and then make us jump through hoops to get it. Don’t endanger the lives of these young kids whose parents entrust them in our care. Don’t side with corporate sponsorship over our safety.

That ain’t right. That’s not the way gay people do things. We take care of our own.

For Sacramento Pride 2020, I hope to see changes, and water.

Eddie Jen is a San Francisco-based drag queen, writer and attorney.
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