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    San Francisco Pride 2017

    ‘Flower Power’ at San Francisco Pride

    With the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, the San Francisco Bay Times is proud to present “Flower Power” at the San Francisco Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25. Led by one of the world’s largest processional gongs, which is being flown in from Bali, our contingent will feature international percussionists Gamelan X, DJ Rockaway from Play on the Bay and Olivia, a tribute to our columnist and SF Pride 2017 Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshal Dr. Marcy Adelman, and stilt walker Glen, who will be towering over the entire parade route carrying the enormous “Bouquet of Peace.” There will be two large open air vehicles, our Party Mobile and, most importantly, the contingent will include San Francisco Bay Times columnists and supporters, and hopefully you! See the end of this article for details.

    A Timeless Photo

    “Flower Power” has several different meanings. On October 21, 1967, just after the Summer of Love, a Vietnam War protester placed a carnation into the barrel of a rifle held by a soldier of the 503rd Military Police Battalion. Photographer Bernie Boston was sitting on a wall at the National Mobilization Committee to End the War March at the Pentagon, and captured the moment for posterity. The image, named “Flower Power,” was nominated for the 1967 Pulitzer Prize. The photo remains a compelling reminder of the gentle force and alternative nature-centered consciousness represented by flowers.

    With the country divided over the war and social justice issues, tensions were extremely high during 1967 in the U.S. from coast to coast. The British Medical Journal in 2008 estimated that between the years 1955 and 2002, nearly 4 million people—soldiers, civilians and others—died as a result of the Vietnam War. The war occurred, not only in Vietnam, but also in Laos and Cambodia. Many Americans were personally affected by the conflict, given that 2.2 million U.S. men were drafted from 1964–1973. A raging sea of emotions that included everything from patriotism to anger and fear gripped a nation that was still in shock over President John F. Kennedy’s assassination 4 years earlier and the Watts Riots of 1965. It was in this environment that the “Flower Children” arose.

    Flower Children

    After the January 14, 1967 “Human Be-In” event at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, an estimated 100,000 young people from across the country and world flocked to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district to be a part of the evolving counterculture movement. One of the first individuals whom new arrivals would see would be a person handing out flowers in the middle of the street. The arrivals likely already had flowers, having heard the popular song released on May 13, 1967: “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair.” Singer Scott McKenzie told listeners:

    If you’re going to San Francisco

    Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

    If you’re going to San Francisco

    You’re gonna meet some gentle people there

    Countless LGBT individuals—many not yet out of the closet—were drawn to the burgeoning counterculture scene. Harvey Milk grew his hair long and was captivated by the movement, which also drew the interest of young Cleve Jones, just to name a few. When these and other brilliant queer activists moved to San Francisco in the early 1970s, their lives were already shaped by the Summer of Love and its political aftermath.

    Symbols of Peace and Love

    Flowers symbolized peace and love long before the Summer of Love. Flowers were often featured in early Egyptian hieroglyphics. One of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, purportedly built by Nebuchadnezzar II between 605–562 B.C. as a loving gift to his wife. Early historians spoke of flowers growing over the bodies of fallen soldiers in many battles. The Bible’s Song of Solomon 5:13 includes these passionate lines:

    His cheeks are like a bed of balsam

    Banks of sweet-scented herbs

    His lips are lilies

    Dripping with liquid myrrh

    But we don’t need to be taught that flowers signify peace and love; we seem to be born with that awareness. These erotic natural forms, meant to entice pollinators, are the reproductive organs of plants. They affect us in numerous ways. Their colors, scents and seductive patterns accompany us through life’s important stages, such as flowers at high school proms, wedding bouquets and get-well arrangements. By touching nearly all of our senses, they help to shape our memories. Flowers even lead to food that nourishes us.

    One Earth, One Big Ecosystem

    There is a connection between animals and plants that we do not yet fully understand. Scientists have only recently determined that certain plants know how to count (see this story:, communicate with each other, display forms of logic even without an animal-like brain, and possess additional abilities. A quote from another famous 60’s song comes to mind:

    There’s something happening here

    But what it is ain’t exactly clear

    We’ve taken those lines from Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” out of context, but their sentiment could apply to the still-mysterious connections between animals and plants. They remind us how important it is to promote healthy ecosystems. We stand strongly against President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change and believe that in this, and so many other matters, he and his administration pose a dangerous threat to the wellbeing of not only our community, but also the entire planet. Our “Flower Power” contingent therefore serves as a reminder to enact thoughtful stewardship of the earth and its natural resources.

    “Flower Power” at Pride

    “Flower Power” also refers to the fantastic new exhibit at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, in which you will see several artistic representations of these dreamy blossoms. The exhibit, featured in this issue of the paper, is a thoughtful addition to the city’s 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Summer of Love. Our contingent volunteers will receive a custom tie-dyed t-shirt to commemorate this special occasion, and will be carrying flowers, just as the Flower Children did all those decades ago. At a time when our country is once again divided, the timeless sentiments of peace and love signified by flowers seem just as relevant now as they did in 1967.

    So please join us! Be a part of our contingent during this Summer of Love Pride. For more information, please contact San Francisco Bay Times publisher Dr. Betty Sullivan at

    Thank you to all who are helping with the contingent. Contributors include Olivia Travel, NAPA Cellars, Gray Line Tours, Dixie Horning, Grubstake, Premium Resources, Budget Signs, Extreme Pizza, Celebrity Cruises, San Francisco Federal Credit Union, La Mediterranee, Mission de Flores and many more. Thanks also to our team leaders and volunteers. For those and others who come to Pride and to the San Francisco Bay Times contingent, “summertime will be a love-in there.”


    Mission de Flores Flowers at SF Pride 2017

    The beautiful bouquets and sunflowers in the San Francisco Bay Times/“Betty’s List” 2017 Pride Parade contingent come from Mission de Flores, whose first location at 2590 Folsom Street is the only establishment of its kind serving the Mission and surrounding areas. There, and at their second location in the Excelsior, they sell high quality flowers, create incredible bouquets and carry exotic plants, orchids, succulents and numerous plants that are perfect for Bay Area gardens.

    Mission de Flores was started by Steve Rubenfaer and Ezekiel “Zeke” Steffens, initially because there was no florist in the Mission, and Rubenfaer had to travel too far to buy flowers. Their vision was to be a neighborhood florist serving the Mission and beyond, with high quality stems and gorgeous arrangements. They opened in October of 2013, merging Steffens’ floral skills with Rubenfaer’s business experience.

    Tragically, Steffens passed away in July of 2014. Since then, Rubenfaer has run the business independently, but has kept their shared vision, with the help of Head Designer Ana Neira and operations manager, Michael Halper. Mission de Flores always uses the freshest flowers, creates flawless arrangements, and provides unparalleled customer service to provide the best experience for its clients. We are so proud to feature their flowers in our “Flower Power” contingent at the 2017 San Francisco Pride Parade.

    For more information about Mission de Flores, please go to: