The LGBTQ+ community and allies broke out their rainbow regalia this weekend, uniting in love and resistance for San Francisco’s 47th annual Pride festivities.
Pride included Friday’s Trans March at Dolores Park as well as Saturday’s San Francisco Dyke March. Celebrations also took place at Civic Center Plaza on both Saturday and Sunday, with the annual parade dancing down Market Street on Sunday morning.
“Pride is the place,” said Dylan Martinez, a student at Dominican University in San Rafael. “It’s a citywide celebration you can’t miss.”
San Francisco’s Pride celebration began as a small event and march in Golden Gate Park in 1970 and now attracts more than 1 million people at various events around the city.
This year’s Dyke March kicked off at Dolores Park on Saturday evening. Marchers made their way through the Mission District to the Castro, ending up back at Dolores Park’s lively hillside.
Though the march started late, Dolores Park filled up with celebratory visitors about 11 a.m.. Attendees gathered on the grass to picnic and watch performances ranging from musicians to activists to a queer burlesque show.
The Dyke March is “one day where dykes can proclaim space, rights, visibility, and respect,” according to the March’s website. The event aims to bring “dykes” together in a celebration of unity.
“I think now more than ever it’s important to be seen and be visible and show what our beliefs are in terms of politics,” said Jeannie Witkin, a self-identified dyke and an American Sign Language interpreter for the event.
The event’s emcees, Lexi Adsit and Vanessa Rochelle Lewis, said they wanted to make sure that this year’s march was a political action in the tradition of 1969’s Stonewall riots, which inspired the original pride event a year later.
“My parents are homophobic so pride is my way to express myself in the most free, most loving way with my friends,” Martinez, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, said.
Emma Cousineau, a student who attended The Evergreen State College in Washington, said she was having a good time at the Dyke March but that she hadn’t yet decided whether to attend Sunday’s festivities.
“I personally am apprehensive of the parade because I’m more for queer liberation than capitalism and performative allyship,” Cousineau said.
On Sunday, more than 250 groups marched in “A Celebration of Diversity,” the weekend’s theme. About 10:30 a.m., Dykes on Bikes opened the parade, followed by a resistance contingent that chanted “resist hate” and anti-Trump messages.
Technicolor floats sponsored by Apple, Amazon and other corporations blasted pop music, while Netflix’s float featured guest appearances by cast members of “Orange is the New Black.”
Angel-winged stilt walkers, bare-naked drum players, Bay Area police departments and dogs of all shapes and sizes travelled past cheering crowds.
“It’s a great event where people come and enjoy being in San Francisco. It’s good for the city, it’s certainly good for commerce and it’s obviously a pretty good vibe out here,” said San Francisco Police Lt. Mike Nevin.
About 2 p.m., crowds moved through security to enter the celebrations at Civic Center Plaza. Partygoers in rainbow garb danced to musicians performing on 20 stages and venues, ranging in theme from “Homo Hip Hop” to “Soul of Pride.”
Across from the Asian & Pacific Islander LGBT Pride Stage and Pavilion, couples slowed things down at a Western Dance Corral sponsored by the Sundance Saloon, a nonprofit that promotes LGBTQ+ community through country-western dancing.
Fenced off from the surrounding party, the Our Family Coalition, OFC, hosted an LGBTQ+ family garden. Children ran around the area and enjoyed healthy snacks post-marching alongside their parents.
“Sometimes LGBTQ+ movements can be a little bit adult-oriented,” said Renata Moreira, executive director of OFC. “Our primary goal for this space is to provide a safe haven where families can connect with each other, spend time together, recharge from the pride intensity and (bring) the broad LGBTQ+ community together.”
Rows of booths offered attendees the chance to win neon green Smirnoff fanny packs or support the Human Rights Campaign.
Outside the Super Slyde Latin Stage, booths provided information on the ways in which people of color are disproportionately affected by HIV and offered free testing to passerby.
“The fact that we’re here providing free testing for anyone, really, is fundamental to keeping our communities healthy and functioning” said Geovani Espinoza, a services coordinator for Sí a la Vida — a San Francisco-based Latino/Chicano HIV program which offered services at the event.
“I do enjoy seeing just a lot of queers out here, that’s probably my favorite part,” Espinoza said.
Contact Christine Giuliano and Rachael Cornejo at [email protected].