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    The 25th Pink Triangle Atop Twin Peaks Will Shine as a Beacon of Hope for the 50th Anniversary of SF Pride

    By Patrick Carney–

    Some traditions die hard. Sometimes we need a splash of color and a flash of light. The 25th Pink Triangle will have all of that. This quarter-century tradition will go on this month despite a pandemic and a canceled Pride Parade. And it will be spectacularly illuminated thanks to the generous help of the group behind The Bay Lights, the LED art installation on the Bay Bridge. We are excited to partner with Ben Davis and his nonprofit Illuminate to make this year’s Pink Triangle extra special. 

    In normal years, many cities all over the planet are festooned in rainbow flags, colorful balloons, and other décor for their Pride Weekends, but only one city has a giant Pink Triangle on a hill in the center of the city, and that is San Francisco. We are unique in the world. 

    Part of celebrating and appreciating Pride is understanding where we have been. The Pink Triangle is one of history’s reminders of hate and brutality. The huge one-acre display is a highly visible yet mute reminder of inhumanity. It is a giant in-your-face educational tool and annual event to teach people of where hatred can lead. It commemorates one of the darkest chapters in human history, the Holocaust. The main goal and a true highlight of the Pink Triangle is educating people of the lessons of the Pink Triangle, the lesson being: what can happen when hatred and bigotry are allowed to become law, as they did in the 1930s and 40s.

    This is truly a “community-building event” that has brought strangers together to help construct a gigantic Pink Triangle on the side of Twin Peaks each year for nearly a quarter-century. It brings LGBTQs together with families from across the Bay Area who turn out to assemble the one-acre display and to learn about us person-to-person. Many families bring children to meet LGBTQs as individuals and to learn the “History of the Pink Triangle” during the ceremony. Unfortunately, that aspect cannot happen this year due to COVID-19, but we will make up part of that loss with spectacular illumination.  

    This year we’re celebrating the 25th time the Pink Triangle has appeared atop Twin Peaks, however, social distancing restrictions will result in the giant display appearing much different during the daytime than in past years. Since we cannot assemble the usual 200–300 volunteers, only the 5ft wide “outline” of bright pink sailcloth, which will still be highly visible, is being installed. Nighttime lighting will then take place in the center area (between the “outline” of bright pink sail cloth).

    The 25th Pink Triangle will be lit up by Illuminate, the masterminds behind the Bay Lights (illumination of the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge), and its Founder & Chief Visionary Officer Ben Davis. The illumination will feature 2,700 LED nodes. The mesmerizing triangle—covering nearly a full acre—will serve as an uplifting and enduring symbol of San Francisco’s resilience.

    This will be the 8th time the Pink Triangle of Twin Peaks has been illuminated. The prior seven times the light shined onto the display; this time the display itself will be the light source and the light will shine outward toward the city rather than inward toward the Pink Triangle. It will be the opposite of the previous seven illuminations.

    There will be a small, socially-distant Global Grand Lighting Ceremony on Saturday, June 27, at 8 pm with Mayor London Breed. It will be brief with only a few speakers, and they will be widely spaced apart while wearing pink triangle masks. There will be a lectern and four separate remote microphones plus someone to wipe the lectern down between speakers. The ceremony will be short, poignant, reflective, and inspiring—and “of course” will adhere to all safe guidelines for COVID-19, and common sense.

    There will not be a public audience, only organizers and volunteers who help set up the stage area, and the press—all of whom will be widely spaced and also wearing pink triangle masks. As this will be one of the few remaining live events of Pride and not virtual, we encourage all to watch from your rooftop, your balcony, your window, from Market Street, or from any high point in San Francisco or beyond. It will be live-streamed too, but it is best seen in real time and in real life—just look toward Twin Peaks Saturday, June 27, shortly after 9 pm. The illuminated display will be up for three weeks.

    Leading up to the ceremony there will be a Pink Torch Procession starting in Oakland then over the Bay Bridge to the Ferry Building, then a solemn march by torch bearers who will head up Market Street towards Twin Peaks where the public art exhibit site of the gigantic Pink Triangle is located. 

    The Pink Torch Procession will be one person (or a couple) walking with an iconic pink torch. Thanks to an amazing donation from two artists from Burning Man, we have a beautiful one-of-kind pink triangle LED torch. Torchbearers will be given a special Pink Triangle mask, Pink Triangle t-shirt, and pink gloves, and will be escorted by a volunteer and several motorcycles on their trek toward Twin Peaks.

    In Oakland, the procession will go around Lake Merritt (include highlights like the LGBTQ Center, BBQ Becky location, Black Panther historic spot) … then make its way across the Bay Bridge. 

    The selected torchbearers must adhere at all times to CDC recommendations keeping 6 feet apart from anyone, plus everyone involved in the small entourage must remain socially distant from each other. The time won’t be published so as not to encourage the assembly of a crowd.

    The community has embraced the pink triangle as a symbol of pride, though it was once used in an attempt to label and persecute.

    The test of any democracy is how well it treats its minorities. The Third Reich demonstrates how easily a government can devise minority scapegoats. Branding homosexuals as criminals let most Germans feel comfortable looking the other way, while the Nazis went about their persecution. Can this happen again? Is it happening now? Is a gradual process of dehumanization taking place now in this country to stigmatize certain groups? Opinion polls show that for the first time in decades, public acceptance of LGBTQs has gone down. The education provided by the Pink Triangle display and ceremony must continue.

    A big motivation and inspiration for keeping the annual San Francisco Pink Triangle display going was learning that after the concentration camps were liberated at the end of WWII, and all of the other prisoners were let go, many of those with a pink triangle on their pocket were put back in prison and the nightmare continued (under Paragraph 175). The discrimination and dehumanization didn’t stop with the liberation of the camps—simply because they were homosexual. It was amazing to me that after all of the carnage and horror of the camps was revealed to the world via newsreels, and people around the globe were unified in shock and disbelief, somehow it was still okay to throw the gays back in prison.

    It is the same kind of senseless, irrational hatred that still haunts Gays, Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, and many other minorities today. That kind of hatred and discrimination certainly doesn’t exist much in San Francisco, but there are still plenty of places in the world where it is not only alright to discriminate against homosexuals, but also some even look the other way when we are killed.

    Many of us today enjoy increasing freedom and equality due to the “Generations of Hope” who risked their lives by living their truths and being their authentic-selves so future generations could be themselves and to live feely. The (pink) torch has been passed, so please guard these hard-fought freedoms and pass them along to the next generation. This duty is now yours! 

    For more information on the quarter-century project, including contact information, directions, and History of the Pink Triangle:

    Join me, Ben Davis of Illuminate, and all who participated in creating the awe-inspiring symbol for 2020. This is truly one of the most meaningful ways to show your Pride.

    Fiscal Sponsors for the 2020 Pink Triangle are: San Francisco Pride, The Bob Ross Foundation, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and Hodgkins Jewelers, with the San Francisco Bay Times and “Betty’s List” serving as media sponsors.

    Thank you all!

    Thank you to Illuminate and Ben Davis and the hundreds of supporters who have contributed to the

    Illuminate the Pink Triangle GoFundMe charity site:

    Thank you to the Illuminate the Pink Triangle organizational, promotional, and fundraising efforts of Ben Davis, Vanessa Inn, David Hatfield, Patricia Suflita Wilson, Gary Virginia, Gregg Cassin, Hossein Carney, Whitmire Vo, Madeleine Maguire,

    Wendy Norris, Kile Ozier, and Robin Abad Ocubillo.

    Patrick Carney is the 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. For more information about the 25th Pink Triangle and how you can help:

    Published on June 25, 2020