Ever since the first Pride march was held in San Francisco in June 1970 following the Stonewall Riots in 1969 New York, the celebration and parade have been fixtures of life in San Francisco. This year marks the 45th anniversary of this celebration of the fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality.
This year’s Pride will be held on the weekend of June 27th and 28th in San Francisco’s Civic Center by City Hall. For both LGBT individuals and allies, Pride promises an exciting and enlightening experience. First and foremost, the San Francisco Pride celebration is known for its vibrant Pride Parade. The parade will be held on Sunday at 10:30am starting at Market and Beale and ending at Market and 8th Street. Onlookers get there early to see the entire procession.
Following in the tradition of carefully selected Pride themes, this year’s inspiration is ‘Equality Without Exception’, a concept that promises a fun and inclusive event. The parade seeks to actively promote this message, honoring LGBT history and celebrating diversity within the community.
This inclusivity may be best expressed through this parade, the focal point of the weekend. Visually, the Pride Parade can be most accurately described as an exuberant spectacle. Floats blasting upbeat dance music and draped with both streamers and people are plentiful. Yes, there is a lot of nudity, but there are also extravagant gowns and head adornments. Whether dressed up or down, outfits at Pride are built to shock and amaze.
The goal usually seems to be outlandish happiness, expressed primarily through clothing, music, and dancing. Modes of transportation range from motorcycles to horses, all adorned in vibrant color. Parade participants travel on stilts, unicycle, and foot, waving to the sea of rainbow as they pass by. The parade is the best way to see the true celebratory mission and nature of Pride. In this way, the Pride Parade captures the true meaning of LGBT pride, a happy expression of diversity and acceptance.
After the parade, participants flock to City Hall to see groups perform on the main stage. As in years past, the main stage will be located next to City Hall for the entire weekend. This year’s entertainment includes a wide range of speakers, musicians, and other performers, with a focus on those who actively support and advocate for the LGBT community. Saturday’s performances will feature queer DJs, disco music, and a host of other entertainers. On Sunday, the venue will highlight some of the best new performers, and both well-known and more local artists.
Featured artists and performers include singer Kat Robichaud, speaker Kate Kendell, and rapper Siya. Many of the artists slated to perform are queer identifying or serve queer audiences. Many other spaces will be set aside for those eager to celebrate, including areas for dancing and others that seek to further bring attention to diversity within the LGBT community. In years past these have included an International Stage, Queer Youth Space, and Transgender Pavilion. These spaces give voice to intersecting identities, addressing the range of experience and culture for LGBT individuals. Some community stages and venues simply provide platforms for showing off your best dance moves, a welcome service for many.
San Francisco Pride is first and foremost an event that celebrates LGBT individuals and culture. It is also and extremely engaging and exciting event for both people who identify as LGBT and allies. While in many ways Pride may appear simply as a large party, it is important to view the celebration within a rich historical and cultural context. With this in mind, participants may gain both a wildly fun and culturally enlightening experience.