Repainted Hermosa Beach lifeguard tower a symbol of welcome

Story and photos by Nadia Bidarian

For the first time in the city’s history, Hermosa Beach recognized Pride Month in an all-day celebration on Saturday. South Bay LGBTQ residents marched from Bottle Inn at 22nd Street to a newly painted rainbow lifeguard tower at 13th Street.

Hermosa resident Izzy Bacallao, 18, who identifies as nonbinary, spearheaded the effort to repaint the tower. 

“The idea came to Izzy, as I understand it, after the pride tower in Long Beach was burned to the ground in an incredible act of hate,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said at the tower’s unveiling. “Izzy said, ‘Why don’t we respond to that act of hate with an act of love?’” 

Hahn was instrumental in getting county approval to repaint the lifeguard tower.

The celebration would not have been possible without the help of the South Bay chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), according to Bacallao. Two PFLAG meetings take place every month. One meeting is for general support, and the second meeting is for transgender individuals.

After the lifeguard tower unveiling, the celebration continued at Java Man and The Deck.

“In our queer community, we have so many supportive families. But on the opposite side, we have so many unsupportive families. Mine is one of those,” PFLAG vice-president Rita Gerace said. “[PFLAG] is a chance to put a hand on those parents and say, ‘Hey, this is how it can go wrong. Let’s make it go right.’”

In Oct. 2019, an El Segundo lifeguard tower was painted pink in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This past April, a lifeguard tower in Marina Del Rey was painted in hearts to recognize people with autism spectrum disorder. The costs for painting each tower was covered by local nonprofit organizations, not LA County, according to a County spokesperson.

“This is so symbolic because a lifeguard tower means there is someone there who is watching you and looking out for you,” Hahn said. “Here in Hermosa Beach, everyone is welcome and everyone is loved.” 

PFLAG currently meets virtually via Zoom. Email info@PFLAGManhattanBeach.org for more information and the Zoom link. ER

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Written by: Nadia

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