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    SF Pride for Racial and Economic Justice, and for Orlando


    News of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history has ripped a gaping wound in our hearts that still has not healed, and never fully will. The image of vibrant, loving people celebrating Pride month by enjoying Latin night at the Orlando gay nightclub Pulse on June 12, followed in an instant by the brutal killing of 49 by gunman Omar Mateen, is unbearable. The victims, including those who were wounded and otherwise traumatized, could have been any of us.

    San Francisco Pride’s theme this year is racial and economic justice, but where is the justice for those 49 innocent people, many of whom were Latin individuals whose families had already experienced hardship? How many other individuals, whose only “crime” was loving life, were killed in the name of ISIS, homophobia, prejudice, religious fanaticism or other forms of organized hate? We will never know, but the list grows longer every day.

    True fairness for such individuals and their loved ones is impossible, yet we have little choice but to move forward. The march down Market Street on Pride Sunday will therefore be a symbolic journey for us, and one fueled by hope for our future and future generations.

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    Joining our team from the San Francisco Bay Times will be members of the Rainbow Honor Walk who will be highlighting legendary LGBT community leaders. The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir will also be with us. Music—and gospel music, in particular—has long been a healing force that has the power to comfort and to deliver us from the solitude of suffering. Coming out of the African American religious experience, gospel music strengthened communal bonds during slavery, the Civil War and some of our nation’s most challenging times to this day. Gospel is the music, for example, that comforted many of the families of victims from the Charleston church massacre in 2015 that took the lives of nine victims. Whatever your spiritual beliefs are, the emotions, beauty, gratitude and optimism often expressed in this treasured music can positively affect us all.

    Our contingent will also include city officials, such as Oakland City Councilmember At-Large and San Francisco Bay Times columnist Rebecca Kaplan and her wife, Pamela Rosin. UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health executives Nancy Millikin, MD; Dixie Horning; and Judy Young will also join us.

    LGBT business leaders will be with us as well, such as life partners Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell, the founders of the 2016 National Small Business of the Year. Their business, Equator Coffees & Teas, focuses on quality, sustainability and social responsibility. Paul Pendergast, Interim President and President Emeritus of the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA), will be aboard one of our double-decker cable cars too. GGBA is the nation’s first LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the first business organization founded by LGBT entrepreneurs. Additional business leaders joining us include representatives from Bank of San Francisco, Celebrity Cruises, Olivia Travel, San Francisco Federal Credit Union, Sullivan-Botello Events, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, SPRITZ Marketing and others.

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    Our contingent will additionally include a group celebrating the Maud’s 50th Anniversary Reunion. It will be led by LGBT activist Mandy Carter, co-founder of the National Black Justice Coalition. She is traveling from North Carolina for the event. Carter’s activism dates to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work in the 1960s and would require volumes to document. She has not slowed down a bit, and these days has been helping to lead the fight against HB2 in her state. This “Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act” has received a lot of press over bathroom policies in regards to transgender citizens, but broadly it stands to prevent local governments from establishing and implementing anti-discrimination and employment policies. Considering this issue and others, there is little doubt that Carter has her hands full. She deservedly was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and we are very honored to have her with us.

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    The talented creators of the award-winning documentary Last Call at Maud’s, Paris Poirier and Karen Kiss, are also joining us. From 1966 until 1989, Maud’s was a San Francisco bar for women. Lesbians did not, and still don’t, have many places to socialize in the Bay Area. Maud’s—formerly located at 937 Cole Street, which is now home to Finnegans Wake—provided a rare and safe space for lesbians to connect, feel free, and be their true selves.

    Pulse in Orlando—co-founded by Barbara Poma with her friend Ron Legler to honor Poma’s brother John, who died from AIDS in 1991—was meant to be such a safe space. Pride parades were created with similar reasons in mind. Over the years, as columnist Tom Moon writes in this issue, we have seemingly, however, become complacent about Pride. Each year, we are reminded just how important it still is.

    We therefore hope that you will join us in marching for Orlando, for racial and economic justice and for a show of peaceful force and loving unity in the wake of fears and tragedies that we cannot allow to continue. As U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera wrote of his poem “I Will Lov U 4Ever, Orlando,” the words and call to action are “for all our 49 LGBTQ brothers and sisters massacred at the Pulse dance club, Orlando, Florida, RIP, and their families and all the 53 injured and their families, for all seeking the end of homophobia and mad gun machines.”