There were a few protesters with signs equating being gay with perversion and sin, but the atmosphere at Saturday's first-ever gay pride rally in Castro Valley was largely bubbly and uplifting.
At least a couple of hundred people joined and Castro Valley residents and gay advocates and Blair Hansen at a homegrown event in the senior parking lot of Castro Valley High School.
Speakers included the organizers, public officials and pastors.
Bob Swanson, representative of Alameda County Board of Supervisors President Nate Miley's office, said, "You have got to come out of the closet and let people know you're here."
Hayward City Councilman Bill Quirk said, "This rally is changing the image of Castro Valley. Ten years ago, this wouldn't have happened."
Reverend Dawn Roginski of the Bay Area Coalition of Welcoming Congregations said, "God loves you just the way you are."
Oakland Pride, whose members include Castro Valley residents, pitched in with the official fixtures that made the event acceptable in the eyes of the school district, which had worried about safety. Frank Ciglar, Oakland Pride's treasurer and a Castro Valley resident, by producing a plan for first aid, port-a-potties, cleanup and other arrangements.
Alameda County sheriff's deputies provided security.
As a for the event said, "This grassroots event will feature speakers, musicians and a group of people who understand that our gay friends, family members, coworkers and neighbors deserve the same love and respect that we all wish for."
Click here to see the Facebook event page.