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    2020: A Year of Milestone Anniversaries for San Francisco LGBTQ Events

    By Patrick Carney–

    As the late-great Jerry Herman commanded: “Get out your feathers, your patent leathers, your beads and buckles and bows,” because coming in June 2020, San Francisco Pride is turning 50 and the Pink Triangle atop Twin Peaks will have its 25th annual display. Throw in some sequins, spandex, boas, rainbow flags, and pink triangle t-shirts too; it’s going to be quite a show. This is a significant milestone year for San Francisco’s LGBTQ community. The synergy of these important and highly visible queer-based civic events both enjoying anniversaries will make June a colorful and memorable month.  

    The grand dame of the world’s Pride Parades/Festivals will take place on a major scale in San Francisco this coming June. The festivities along Market Street, Civic Center, and all over San Francisco will be spectacular; the Pride Board and various community organizers/activists are busily putting forth ideas and planning a month to remember. So far, they have announced that there will be over 200 parade contingents and exhibitors, and more than twenty community-run stages and venues. Don’t miss it!

                                 “Strut down the street and have your picture took,
                                  Dressed like a dream your spirits seem to turn about.
                                  That Sunday shine is a certain sign,
                                  That you feel as fine as you look!”
                                  Lyrics by Jerry Herman

    SF Pride held its first event in June 28, 1970, a year after the Stonewall riots. Now, 50 years later, the stars have aligned allowing the San Francisco Pride Parade to again take place on June 28th as it did in the beginning. The first was called “Christopher Street Liberation Day Gay-in” and the theme of that first event was deemed “Freedom Day Revolution.”

    There was no event in 1971, but there has been one every year since then. SF Pride still meets the goal of the preface of its original theme: “Freedom Day.” People come from all over the world to experience the freedom to truly be themselves or to happily watch others celebrate being themselves as they march, walk, sachet, dance, skate, ride on a float or motorcycle, or in some other way make their way down Market Street through the Financial District to Civic Center.

    The importance of this feeling of freedom and happiness cannot be understated. That is what it is all about, carefree and joyously fun; it is truly “gay” in the original definition of the word. There is certainly a serious side, too. The activists, organized contingents, abundant floats, and decorated vehicles acknowledge current struggles, honor our past, question and celebrate our present, and joyously show optimism for the future, even though there seem to be many new battles to fight in spite of recent gains over the past decade.

    Times change quickly with new challenges before us that have arisen due to a backlash from some people toward our recent advances. The 2020 SF Pride events will address all of that and will indeed live up to SF Pride’s Mission Statement: 

    “The Mission of the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration Committee is to educate the world, commemorate our heritage, celebrate our culture, and liberate our people.”

    2020 will also bring the 25th annual Pink Triangle. San Francisco has the unique distinction of being the only city in the world hosting a Pride event that has a giant Pink Triangle hovering over the city. All cities hosting a Pride or Stonewall event are festooned with colorful banners, balloons, bunting, and rainbow flags (thanks to the genius of LGBTQ icon Gilbert Baker), but only one city has a one-acre Pink Triangle on a mountain in the middle of the city that can be seen for 20 miles—and that city is, of course, San Francisco.

    The Pink Triangle atop Twin Peaks is a highly visible, yet mute, reminder of man’s inhumanity to man. It is a giant educational tool and annual ceremony to teach people where hatred can lead. It commemorates one of the darkest chapters in human history, the Holocaust. This is a “community-building event,” which brings together LGBTQs with supporters from across the Bay Area who turn out to volunteer to help install the huge one-acre display and learn about us person-to-person.

    Many families bring children to meet us as individuals and to learn the “History of the Pink Triangle” during the ceremony. It is through the huge display that we also hope to educate others of the lessons of the Pink Triangle; the primary lesson being: “what can happen when hatred and bigotry are allowed to become law.” As they say, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” 

    San Francisco is truly a city apart. We stand out for many reasons, but our plethora of citywide Pride events, plus the giant Pink Triangle, are over-the-top and visually stunning like no other city. Come this June, let’s go all out as we celebrate SF Pride 50 and the 25th annual Pink Triangle.

    Patrick Carney is a Co-Founder of The Friends of the Pink Triangle. The group, with the help of many dedicated volunteers, constructs a gigantic pink triangle on Twin Peaks each year during the last weekend in June. Carney, who worked on the restoration of San Francisco City Hall, was appointed to the City Hall Preservation Advisory Commission in 2013.


    About Our Cover

    During most years our attention turns to Pride closer to June, when the Pride Parade & Festival, Pride Brunch, Pink Triangle Commemoration, and related events happen. The start of this new decade, however, marks the 50th Anniversary of SF Pride, with planning already underway for numerous special events citywide to mark this golden year.

    Bruce Beaudette, featured on our cover, is part of this planning effort, given that he is a member of the SF Pride Board of Directors. But for Beaudette, Pride isn’t just a once-a-year happening. He is pretty much full-on Pride 24/7!

    This GLBTQ2 historian, costume artist, and self-described Chihuahua companion (Yoko O-Yes is his canine bestie) is well known as Cole Valley and the Castro’s “Costume King,” turning freak chic into compelling street theater with frequent expressions of queerness included. We love this line from a Hoodline profile of him: “Beaudette is, in many respects, the quintessential San Franciscan: an eccentric and open-minded gay man with a social and political conscience.”

    We are also reminded of Sister Dana Van Iquity’s thoughts about Pride, which we usually share each year: “It was a very abnormal group of ‘freaky people wearing funny clothes’ back then who made it possible for us today to cocktail and cruise undisturbed in the queer bar of our choice. And walk down Market Street holding hands. And for that matter, those ‘nelly fellas’ paved the way for every one of our civil rights marches. So, when you see a drag queen or ‘freaky person,’ give ’em the thumbs-up and thank ’em for the legacy that continues. Flame on, freaky people!!!”

    Special thanks go to photographer JP Lor, who made possible the recent photo shoot with Bruce.

    Published on January 16, 2020