At RJ Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD), a two-day Pride program spanning four yards included a performer and guest speakers.
Pride is a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. It began in New York in 1970 and now, over 50 years later, Pride is observed every June across the country.
Chief of Mental Health Dr. Sonia Bahro and her colleagues provided the special program June 5-6.
Following the history-making inaugural RJD Pride last year, this year’s Pride programming was expanded.
Performer visits RJD
To kick off the event, Amber St. James, a self-described “Black, 6-foot, nonbinary, transgender, femme drag queen” performed.
Following St. James, guest speakers included:
- Bob Lehy, the San Diego Pride Program Manager
- Jazzmun Crayton, an actress and the Assistant Director of the Los Angeles-based Access to Prevention Advocacy Intervention and Treatment (APAIT)
- Doctors Ilan Meyer (UCLA) and Valerie Jenness (UCI), discussing their research on LGBTQ+ people
- and Alexis Rowland, a Ph.D. student at UCI, who led an engaging discussion about the experience of being LGBTQ+ in prison.
In addition, the producer and director of “LA: A Queer History,” Mario J. Novoa and Gregorio Davila, visited Echo Yard to introduce the film. They also offered a question-and-answer session after showing the film. In all, 50 people attended at E Yard, including incarcerated residents, staff, and guests.
“I enjoyed contributing (and) find it meaningful and impressive. Kudos to you and your entire team for doing this,” said Valerie Jenness, a Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at UCI. “This program affirms your LGBTQ+ population, and we know how much affirmation can contribute to enhancing mental health for sexual and gender minorities.”
Submitted by RJD Correctional Facility