Family Pride in the Park Was Filled With Love, Acceptance

(Photos by David Laurell / Burbank Leader) - Isabel O’Mero, Mayim Bialik and Tracy Tabb came together to stage Burbank’s first pride event.

First published in the Oct. 15 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Drag queen and recording artist Ms. Jackette Knightley was not easy to miss at the inaugural presentation of Burbank’s Family Pride in the Park event, which was staged at the UMe Federal Credit Union on Magnolia Boulevard late last month.
Decked out in a multi-colored ensemble and towering over the crowd thanks to the five-inch platform boots that augmented her already substantial statuesque height, Ms. Knightley took time out of her tour promoting her latest album “Neon Love” to take part in the family-friendly event which drew close to 300 people.
“This is really a groundbreaking event,” said Ms. Knightley. “And like so many pride events, it’s a part of a process. It takes a lot of people doing a tremendous amount of planning. At first there is some push back, but with love and respect you keep persevering, and then you win.”
The early evening festivities, which included booths manned by local merchants and nonprofit organizations and entertainment, which included the Troubadour Theater Company and the John Burroughs High School Drama Club, were kicked off by a welcome from Burbank Pride Committee President Tracy Tabb.
Following the singing of the National Anthem by Isabella Meneses, Tabb introduced the event’s special guest, Mayim Bialik, best known for playing the title role in NBC’s “Blossom,” neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler on the CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” and now the host of “Jeopardy!”
Prior to taking the stage, Bialik and her son, Miles, mingled with fans and local dignitaries, perused some of the vendors’ wares, and even assisted volunteers in doing some last minute set-up preparations.
Asked why she chose to be a part of this event, Bialik said she had been asked to attend by her longtime friend Isabel O’Mero, who served as the event’s fundraising chair.

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“I have worked in Burbank for many years, and my boys spend a lot of time in Burbank, so I really feel at home here,” Bialik said. “As for this event, I think it’s lovely that so many people can come together to share the spirit of community.”
Making a not-so-veiled reference to a small group who protested the event from across the street, Bialik rolled her eyes.
“In spite of what is going on over there, the important thing is what is going on here — love, acceptance and a lot of hard work by all the volunteers who made this happen.”
In the days after the event, O’Mero, a transgender woman who has been a longtime Burbank resident, reflected on the evening for which the planning began back in the pre-pandemic days of 2020.
“I had been involved with the YMCA’s Social Impact Center, which was the city’s first LGBTQIA-plus resource center,” O’Mero said. “They asked if I would like to be involved in putting on a pride event, and when I joined the committee, I suggested we do it as a family event. I also said it should be right out in the open and in the middle of everything. I believe these events should not be just for the LGBTQIA-plus community. The only way we will all get along and find mutual respect is to be with one another. So, to begin the process I approached the Magnolia Park Merchants Association.”
O’Mero said she went to the association because they have a long history of doing night out events along Magnolia Boulevard which she felt would have a familiarly to attendees. Once she got the association on board, O’Mero, a former script supervisor and television writer, contacted Bialik, whom she has known since her days doing “Blossom.”
“I asked her if we able to pull this together, would she come to throw out the first pitch so to speak,” O’Mero said. “I asked her to just come and say a few words, but she came with her son. They arrived early, helped our volunteers set things up, took selfies with fans, and she even went around checking out the venders and bought a few things.”
Along with Bialik, O’Mero also had praise for the Burbank Police Department.
“The community came together and really worked hard — the association, City Council, Chamber of Commerce, police department, Chief [Michael] Albanese and his captains. They were all on board — nothing but positive and helpful. They were there for us — whatever we needed. The chief was on site for the entire event.”
Along with the aforementioned, O’Mero also lauded others who were responsible for the events success.
Calling it “a wonderful and inclusive evening of love, caring, fun and the making of new friends,” O’Mero said she felt the evening gave a cross-section of people a taste of what their vision was for the event, and what they hope to continue to do.
“They saw who we are,” O’Mero said. “That we want everyone in our community to come together to celebrate our similarities as well as our diversities. They saw that we’re alright.”

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.