Take a Rainbow Road Trip: Celebrate Pride Month in Concord
AS HOME TO THE CONTRA COSTA RAINBOW COMMUNITY CENTER AND ANNUAL PRIDE FESTIVAL, CONCORD HAS LONG BEEN A PROUD ALLY OF THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY. HERE’S A LOOK AT SOME OF THE PEOPLE, PLACES AND EVENTS THAT MAKE OUR CITY A WELCOMING HAVEN FOR RESIDENTS AND VISITORS ALIKE.
Rainbow Community Center
Located on Willow Pass Road in Concord, the Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County has been building community, equity and well-being for the LGBTQ+ community and allies since 1995. Their services include programs for mental health, HIV and prevention youth and older adults, houseless transitional youth, food pantries and professional development and training.
Meet Kiku Johnson
Kiku Johnson, executive director of the Rainbow Center, has 30 years of experience with youth development, community program design, outreach, implementation, and advocacy through a social justice lens. Originally from Michigan, he is an intersectional queer trans man who has lived in Oakland with his partner since 2004.
On a personal note, Kiku loves figuring out how things work (a self-proclaimed “MacGyver”!), enjoys teaching mediums for expression such as stained glass art, and finds true liberation when he hits the dance floor. He is currently writing a book about his life journey as a man of trans experience.
Part of what makes Concord’s rainbow community so exceptional are the people who dedicate their time and energy to creating a stronger community for everyone. Concord’s rainbow center celebrates their dedicated volunteers by selecting one of them as their volunteer spotlight, a recognition earned by demonstrating exceptional community involvement.
This year's Rainbow Community Center spotlight volunteer is Paul. He and his husband Ben moved to Concord from San Francisco shortly after retiring. Paul has dedicated his time and talents to many organizations over the years, including over 25 years to the National AIDS Memorial in Golden Gate Park. When he found Rainbow online, he was eager to support their programs any way he could and began attending Rainbow senior lunches a couple of Fridays each month before the lockdown. Once safety precautions required pausing the in-person senior lunches, Paul was among those who stepped in to help contact our participants by phone to ensure they felt cared for & connected. He also delivered biweekly meals, and he and Ben made Christmas deliveries for Rainbow as well.
Freddie's Rainbow Experience
Freddie, 23, says being at Rainbow feels very calming. When you are at Rainbow, your stress levels go down, and it’s pretty cool to have that support. It is a community of people just like me. Everybody is not the same as me but it’s like we all have a basic general understanding that it’s ok to be yourself here and that’s pretty cool. Rainbow has really helped me regain my confidence and feel comfortable in the work environment so I could get a job. Everybody needs support and foundation, and you can’t get that foundation without having support. If you are lost and do not know where to go, Rainbow is a light at the end of the tunnel. They have helped me out in so many ways I would not even think to get help.
Pride on the Plaza
Concord held its first Pride event in Todos Santos Plaza in June, 2019 and organizations from all over Contra Costa County came to show their support. Organized by the Rainbow Center, the Pride on the Plaza celebration is a family friendly event with music, food, vendors, booths, a kids play area, appearances by local government officials, and more. Like all events, Pride on the Plaza was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, but plans to resume next year.
Concord's Rainbow Flag
Concord’s original Pride flag was raised at the Civic Center on June 1, 2017. The rainbow flag is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer pride, and LGBTQ social movements. The colors reflect the diversity of the LGBTQ community, and each has its own meaning. red stands for life, orange stands for healing, yellow stands for sunlight, green stands for nature, blue stands for harmony, and purple represents spirit. The raising of the rainbow flag was done to demonstrate the City of Concord’s commitment to being a welcoming, inclusive, tolerant and supportive community for all.
Progress Pride Flag
On June 1, 2021, the City of Concord introduced the new Progress Pride rainbow flag that incorporates black, brown, bright blue, pink and white stripes into the standard six-color flag. The change is designed to draw attention to the issues of black, brown, indigenous, transgender and non-binary people who historically have been the most marginalized groups within the LGBTQ community.
This rainbow themed mural in Oak Grove Plaza shopping center spreads a little happiness with its colorful splashes of paint spilling out of the cans. The mural was created in honor of Plaza founder David Zimmerman.
Christian was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and moved to Concord, California, when he was just 12 years old. He discovered a love for makeup while working for mineral makeup brand Bellapierre as a young man and later received formal training in makeup artistry, hair design and special effects at NY Makeup Academy. He worked with MAC Cosmetics for five years where gained expertise in bridal makeup design and has studied celebrity makeup and airbrush design with Kryolan.
Christian works regularly with celebrities throughout California. His clients list includes actresses Arianne Pellicer and Jacqueline Andere, singers Xavier Toscano, Ubis Fenix, Adi Luna, as well as Mexican superstars Tatiana, Alicia Villarreal and Ninel Conde. Christian’s work has been featured in Adelante and Marbella Magazine.
He currently freelances throughout the Bay Area providing makeup services for weddings, quinceañeras, photoshoots, music videos and proms. Christian is also excited about bringing his love for makeup to others through his new mink eyelash collection from makeup brand, C&A Creations.
Besides makeup, Aguirre performs as Bella Aldama, his drag queen persona.