California has a rich history of advocating for the LGBTQ community, championing safe spaces. While this protection has extended to various parts of the state, its consistent implementation was not guaranteed in rural areas.
In a significant move to address the lack of resources for LGBTQ individuals in underserved rural areas, the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus has initiated a statewide “Rural Tour.” The aim is to facilitate direct engagement between caucus members and LGBTQ+ leaders and community members in these long overlooked regions, shedding light on the unique challenges they face.
The 2024 tour commenced in Fresno on January 18th. Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, as the newly appointed chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, declared a dedicated focus on rural equity. The objective is to bridge the gap by bringing San Francisco services into the Central Valley and beyond.
Contrary to assumptions, the existing disparity doesn’t stem from a lack of LGBTQ representation in rural California. Approximately 20% of the state’s LGBTQ community resides in these areas, facing a stark scarcity of resources to amplify minority voices.
During each tour stop, the LGBTQ Caucus plans to host town hall events, providing a platform for local LGBTQ+ community members and leaders to directly address the caucus. This interactive approach allows the local community to voice the prevalent issues unique to their areas.
The Rural Tour serves as an avenue for LGBTQ+ leaders, individuals, and non-profits to establish connections with state leaders. It provides an opportunity to articulate their needs, whether legislative or financial, to ensure the thriving of LGBTQ+ individuals. Furthermore, the relationships forged and insights gained during the tour will inform the LGBTQ Caucus’s work in Sacramento, ensuring that rural equity is integrated into all their endeavors.