“United by Pride and Bound for Equality” is the theme of this year’s Pride celebrations in San Francisco. The Parade and main festivities are scheduled for the final weekend in June ( June 28 and June 29). However, during the whole month of June, activities abound in this city often known as Ground Zero for gay rights. All along Market Street the prominent Rainbow Flag is flown.
This year has been no different for San Francisco. Recently, the California Supreme Court overturned the ban on same sex marriage and in a little over a week many Gay and Lesbian couples will be able to pick up marriage licenses. Historic.
The battle is not over. Anti-Same Sex marriage forces have put a measure on the November ballot to ban it in the State consitutition. We are working to make sure that measure fails. That spirit will be felt all over Pride celebrations this month.
On location filming was completed in the Castro for the upcoming film on Harvey Milk , the first openly elected Gay Supervisor in San Francisco. Milk was assassinated in 1978. The film stars Sean Penn and Emile Hirsch and is due out this December. Themes of the fight for equality permeate this very human story of this imperfect man.
Here is a snapshot of how Pride celebrations started:
The annual Pride Celebration commemorates the rebellion of LGBT patrons of the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village in response to a routine police raid on June 27, 1969. The following year, a “Gay-In” that took place on June 27, 1970 that was the early progenitor of the current Pride Celebration. Since 1972, the event has been held every year, though under various names: “Christopher Street West” in 1972, “Gay Freedom Day” from 1973 to 1980, then “International Lesbian & Gay Freedom Day Parade” from 1981 to 1994, and finally, its present appellation, San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration. Since its modest beginnings, San Francisco Pride has ballooned into one of the largest and most well-known Pride events in the world. Pride events everywhere have come to symbolize several things: the long history of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer resistance to the gender and sex binaries and the hegemony of heterosexist institutions, the freedom of all people to meaningfully and proudly express their sexual and gender identities, and the commitment of LGBT people to combating oppression. From this history of rebellion grew the mission of San Francisco LGBT Pride: to educate the World, celebrate our culture, commemorate our heritage, and liberate our people.(Source: http://www.sfpride.org/)
The parade is often depicted by the popular media and the extreme right as an event full of debauchery.and moral depravity. I have attended a a few of these parades over the years and have found them to be quite the opposite.
There are some floats with Go Go boys and Muscle men. There are the Dykes on Bikes with the occasional Boob flashing! There are drag queens ( our version of clowns and beauty queens…but much more fabulous!).
However, the parade is also filled with countless organizations from religious groups, human rights groups, A.I.D.’s fund raising groups, educational groups, cultural groups, sympathetic corporate sponsors, community groups, grass roots organizations and the like. You also get politicians, government leaders, grand marshalls, and celebrities. Cyndi Lauper and Charo are the Celebrity Grand Marshalls this year. Musical, dance and band groups are interspersed throughout the parade.
Scenes from past San Francisco Pride celebrations
One of the most moving parts of the parade is to see the hundreds of parents, siblings and straight friends walked under the banner of PFLAG ( Parents, Familes and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), with signs like “I love my Gay Son”, ” I love my Lesbian Daughter” , “Equal Rights for my Gay friend”, etc. PFLAG has tirelessly worked to promote understanding in the general public and has been an important advocate in this human rights effort. For those interested, their website is : http://community.pflag.org/