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    Aging Out of Pride: We Are in This Together

    By Suzanne Ford–

    This year, the theme for SF Pride is “Looking Back and Moving Forward,” which is entirely appropriate for 2023. As we continue to make strides towards equality and acceptance, even in the face of an onslaught of Republican legislation aimed at restricting our rights, it is more important than ever to honor the trailblazers who fought and won the battles before us. Our elders stood up and came out in a time when simply being LGBTQ+ was not only taboo but also illegal. They courageously fought for our rights, when we had none, and continue to support and fight for our community today.

    When I think of our elder advocates, I think of Janie Spahr, one of my beloved mentors who helped to shape my advocacy. Beginning in 1979, she was instrumental in fighting for the inclusion of LGBTQ people in the Presbyterian Church. She founded the Spahr Center, the only LGBTQ+ nonprofit in Marin. Her commitment to the LGBTQ+ community is unwavering and shared by so many elders in the Bay Area.

    I want to ensure that we honor our elder leaders this year. Openhouse offers space to seniors in their riding contingent for the parade. SF Pride now leases two trolleys for our elders who prefer to ride. Additionally, the San Francisco Bay Times has a large contingent with a float that always has space for elders. We want you with us! Tickets for the grandstand seating at the parade are on sale now on our website,

    Suzanne Ford (2nd from left) and other leaders of SF Pride carried the organization’s banner at the front of the San Francisco Pride Parade. (2017)

    As we continue to fight for our rights and demand our equality, it is important to learn from the experiences of the pioneers who fought on the front lines. Pride is a great opportunity for community members of all ages to celebrate and work together. When issues arise, as they are now, we need both young and seasoned LGBT+ leaders to band together and fight against tyranny.

    This year, we need everyone to support SF Pride and participate! No one is safe from the organized hate spreading throughout our country. The fight our elders began is not finished. It is imperative that SF Pride shows the world that here, in San Francisco, we will not live without dignity and respect.

    So, I am writing to call everyone to action! Find a way to be a part of SF Pride this year. Reach out to us (at ) if you do not know how you can participate. We will find a way for you to be with us for the weekend. Donate to SF Pride so that we can make sure that the most iconic queer organization in the world continues for the next 50 years at

    Join us on June 22 at the Castro Theater for the SF Pride Kick Off “A Night of Queer Entertainment” fundraiser at 7 pm. Come to the Inaugural SF Pride Human Rights Summit at the Commonwealth Club on Wednesday, June 21, where we will be hosting speakers and panels to discuss how we counter the hate our community is facing. This year, we need all hands on deck. We will see you on Market Street!

    Suzanne Ford (she/her) is the Executive Director of SF Pride. The first trans woman to hold the office, she is a fierce activist working towards human rights for the trans community.

    Aging in Community Special Section Part Two by Dr. Marcy Adelman
    Published on May 18, 2023