Raising My Rainbow’s 11-year-old advocate C.J. Duron to helm OC Pride’s 2018 parade and festival.
OC Pride today announced that its 2018 Grand Marshal will be the youngest in Pride history – not just Orange County’s Pride history, but the nation’s.
OC Pride’s 2018 Grand Marshal is C.J. Duron, an 11-year-old fifth-grader, LGBTQ community member and advocate from South Orange County, Calif.
When C.J. attended OC Pride in 2017, it was his first Pride. His parents took a picture with him at Pride and shared it on social media. The photo went viral when James Woods retweeted it and said “This is sweet. Wait until this poor kid grows up, realizes what you’ve done, and stuffs both of you dismembered into a freezer in the garage.”
Neil Patrick Harris came to the family’s defense by tweeting “Utterly ignorant and classes, Mr. Woods. I’m friends with this family. You know not of what you speak, and should be ashamed of yourself.”
Soon, celebrities, politicians, influencers, high-profile organizations and the media were heatedly arguing for and against supporting LGBTQ youth.
“OC Pride is thrilled to welcome the Duron family back as C.J. serves as the youngest Grand Marshal in Pride history and the inspiration behind OC Pride’s 2018 ‘Be You’ theme,” said Jeremy Huntington, president of OC Pride. “This is what our community does. When one of our members is attacked and exposed to such hate, we lift them up, show them love, celebrate them, put them in a parade and toss confetti. We’re about positivity, hope, love and leadership – especially when it comes to our next generation.”
C.J. self-identifies as gender creative and a member of the LGBTQ community. Since 2001, his mother, Lori Duron, has been chronicling the family’s journey parenting a ORANGE COUNTY LGBT PRIDE gender creative child in the award-winning blog and, then, book Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son (Random House). The book was the first and remains the only parenting memoir of its kind. The blog (RaisingMyRainbow.com) has had more than 3.5 million readers in nearly 200 countries.
As an advocate for non-binary children, C.J. has traveled to Washington D.C. to educate members of the American Academy of Pediatrics about working with gender expansive children and has appeared on The TODAY Show, The Chelsea Handler Show and The Doctors.
In April, he was awarded the LGBT Center Orange County’s Torchbearer award for his advocacy work in the community.
C.J. attends one of the largest elementary schools in Orange County, where he has been instrumental in making it the first school in the district to adopt a gender nonspecific dress code. The dress code was used as a model for district-wide implementation last school year. In the 2017/2018 school year, through a letter writing campaign, C.J. fought for and was successful in putting an end to sex/gender segregation in PE at his school and, then, at the district’s 26 elementary schools.
“It is such an honor to be OC Pride’s Grand Marshal and to be the youngest Pride Grand Marshal ever,” C.J. said. “It’s important to me to be an advocate and a leader and change things for the LGBTQ community. I want to change how people view the community and show people that it’s okay to be different – no matter how you are different. If I could change one thing in the world, it would be that all LGBTQ people would feel safe and be safe and have equal rights.”
Located in the Downtown Santa Ana Historic District, OC Pride’s 2018 “Be You” festival and “Blaze Forward” parade are free and will feature 140 booths, entertainment on five stages, fun activities galore and endless food options. More than 25,000 people are expected to attend the festival and parade that cap off a week of Pride-themed events.
“Pride events are so amazing it feels like you are inside of a rainbow and unicorns are singing and dancing and throwing glitter in the air. In other words, Pride is extremely fun,” added C.J.
OC Pride is a non-profit organization. All OC Pride activities and events are planned and produced entirely by volunteers so that every dollar raised can go to charitable causes. To learn more about attending, volunteering at, donating to and/or sponsoring OC Pride, visit prideoc.com.