Sacramento is home to a thriving and active LGBT community that is both integrated into Sacramento civic life and centered in Midtown Sacramento’s Lavender Heights neighborhood, where LGBT citizens have helped create a bustling arts and gallery scene. LGBT people helped launch Sacramento’s Second Saturday Art Walk nearly a decade ago, an event that brings tens of thousands of visitors into Midtown Sacramento each month.
Sacramento’s city and county government leaders are strongly supportive of the city’s LGBT community. The nine-member Sacramento City Council includes one openly gay councilmember, as well as incoming Mayor-Elect Darrell Steinberg, a former California Senate Pro Tem whose support for Sacramento’s LGBT community dates back decades. Local law enforcement actively engages with LGBT leaders and LGBT-owned businesses to prevent anti-LGBT crime and to ensure safety at LGBT events.
In 2015, the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce joined with gay City Councilmember Steve Hansen, along with community organizations and activists, to launch a campaign officially designating Lavender Heights as the city’s historic LGBT neighborhood. The Chamber served as the fiscal agent for a fundraising drive that culminated in October 2015 with the installation of the Rainbow Crosswalks at the high-traffic intersection of 20th and K streets, the epicenter of Sacramento’s bustling gay scene. The effort enjoyed strong support from area merchants and residents. The coalition currently is developing a fundraising campaign for installation of Lavender Heights street sign toppers.
The area features six gay clubs, ranging in style from Faces, a video night club with three dance floors and a pool; to Mango’s Burgertown, where business people and professionals can gather for dinner and cocktails on a sprawling outdoor patio surrounded by art galleries and shops; to The Depot, a cozy video bar; to The Bolt leather bar. On first Thursdays, Mango’s is the site of Drag Queen Bingo, a rollicking event operated by the Chamber that raises money for a different non-profit beneficiary each month and sells out to standing room only. Crocker Art Museum hosts LGBT-themed events throughout the year in conjunction with local LGBT organizations.
The Sacramento Gay & Lesbian Center, located in the heart of Lavender Heights, provides youth programming and other social services and is the producer of Sacramento Pride, California’s Capital Pride, which each June brings some 8,000 visitors from all over the state to Sacramento’s scenic Capital Mall. In addition to Sacramento Pride, Sacramento also hosts the annual Rainbow Festival each Labor Day weekend, a weekend-long mix of street fair, live performances and parties centered around the Rainbow Crosswalks neighborhood.
In addition to the Chamber, Sacramento is home to the numerous LGBT organizations, including Lavender Library, Sacramento International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Lambda Players theatrical company, the Capital Crossroads Gay Rodeo Association, the Gender Health Center, Camellia Classic LGBT softball tournament, the Sacramento LGBT Tennis Association, Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus, Sacramento Women’s Chorus, LGBT attorneys organization Lambda Legal, the Capital Squares square dance group and numerous other LGBT organizations. Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce is active in supporting many of the organizations and events of LGBT Sacramento and has contributed nearly $50,000 to local non-profit organizations and to youth scholarships over the past four years.
The Stonewall Democratic Club is the region’s largest political club and supports LGBT and allied candidates from throughout Northern California. The Chamber and its non-partisan political action committee, RainbowPAC, also participates in numerous events with California’s LGBT Legislative Caucus as well as candidate meet-and-greets.
Among Sacramento’s active members and partners are the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau, Sacramento Kings, California Musical Theatre/Broadway Sacramento, Sacramento Regional Transit, University of California Davis, Sac State, Sacramento Metropolitan Utility District, Wells Fargo, Outword Magazine, Sacramento Business Journal, Western Health Advantage and the local Asian-Pacific Islander, Black and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce.
The City of Sacramento in 2016 awarded a one-year economic development grant to a partnership consisting of Rainbow Chamber, Sacramento Black Chamber and Sacramento Hispanic Chamber to fund business building events and outreach.
Rainbow Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 15th anniversary at its annual dinner and Business Leader of the Year Awards in September 2017.