"Celebrating people and celebrating our community is a core of who we are," Hielscher said, adding that honoring Pride Month also ties fittingly into both Filoli's past and its current mission. When Filoli's last private owner Lurline Roth bequeathed the estate to the National Trust for Historic Renovation in the 1970s, it was her intention for it to become a "center for horticulture and culture." And historically, she said, the estate's previous owners had a tradition of welcoming diverse performers and visitors into the space.
Filoli Pride kicks off this year on Friday, June 2, with "Dragtopia" — a glamorous and campy after-hours evening of fun, including drag performances by The Screaming Queens and The Rice Rockettes in the ballroom; an appearance by Cheer SF; and a poolside dance party with DJ Bear Mittens. A pop-up shop will also offer gender-inclusive high-heel shoes by Lidia Talavera ("Dragtopia" is sold out as of press time, but waiting-list sign-ups are available).
Throughout the weekend of June 3-4 (included with general admission), visitors can catch a variety of special events, including Drag Queen Storytime for kids, Mexican folk dance by Folclorico Colibri, the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, a sound bath from Banyan Tree Women's Collective, and informational tables from local organizations including the San Mateo County Pride Center and PFLAG, LGBTQ Youth Space, and Reach and Teach at the Pool Pavilion. Queer-owned-and-operated Little Green Cyclo will offer gourmet Vietnamese street food in the Grove, while Pride-themed cocktails (and mocktails) will be available from the Bluebird Bar.
The long-running drum ensemble Queer Taiko will return to offer two performances on Saturday, June 3, at the Ballroom Terrace. The group, which keeps up a busy concert schedule around the Bay Area, has been a part of Filoli Pride since its very first year.
"It's a beautiful space. It was a new Pride celebration when they first approached us, hoping that it would be annual, and we wanted to support that," founder Kristy Oshiro said.
Taiko, a style of Japanese drumming, has ancient roots but has only existed in its contemporary ensemble form for less than a century, they said. The Hawaii-raised Oshiro, who uses they/them pronouns, started drumming as a 9-year-old, as part of a youth group affiliated with a local Zen Buddhist temple. For as long as they can remember, they were captivated by the powerful sound and feeling of the taiko drums.
"I was always drawn to it and I just never stopped," said Oshiro, who founded the Oakland-based Queer Taiko a decade ago.
"I really wanted to create a safe space for everyone to be able to learn taiko, specifically because I identify as queer, trans and nonbinary," they said. Queer Taiko is a way to "build community and visibility through something that I love."
While the opening weekend is packed with special events, some features of Filoli Pride will continue all month. Artwork from the San Francisco-based Queer Ancestors Project, which offers art workshops to young, queer artists in printmaking, writing and queer history, will be displayed in the house, which will also host a Pride scavenger hunt; and products by queer vendors will be featured in the Clock Tower Shop.
Of course, central to any Filoli visit is an exploration of its gorgeous grounds and floral displays. Throughout June, the historic home will feature colorful, Pride-themed flower arrangements by Nigella SF, and visitors can follow a "rainbow walk" on the nature trail, stopping to learn about the colors and design of the Pride flag along the way. Rainbow ribbons of remembrance and Pride flags will also decorate the grounds and buildings.
The annual Pride celebrations have received an "overwhelmingly positive response," Hielscher said, and have also been a way of reaching new audiences as well. The goal, she said, is to send a clear message of inclusivity.
"You're welcome here, you belong here, and you're celebrated here," she said. "We're just so excited to welcome everyone."
Filoli is located at 86 Ca<0x00F1>ada Road, Woodside and regular open hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. General admission is $34 for adults, $24 for children 5-17 (children under 5 are free). Friday night's Dragtopia is currently sold out; email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the waitlist. More information is available at filoli.org/visit/pride/.
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