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    Pride is Back! Now Let’s Get to Work

    By Suzanne Ford–

    It’s been two long years, but San Francisco Pride is back!

    Coming out of the pandemic, we want everyone to celebrate Pride’s resiliency, our beloved city’s resiliency, and the LGBTQ community’s resiliency.

    Pride is the most iconic event in San Francisco and the most iconic Pride event in the world. We’re going to march down Market Street. We’re going to have a damn good party.

    As a trans woman, I’m very concerned with the use of trans issues to divide people, especially in red states. The world needs to see this event. It’s not just about us having a big party—although we can’t wait—but we want to let everyone know that we’re not going anywhere. We’re not going back into the closet; we’re not going backward regarding our rights and who we are and love. We’re not going to be ashamed, and we’re not going to be cowards.

    San Francisco Pride can’t solve all the problems within the city or our community. Our job is to provide a platform where marginalized voices are heard. And we did that. We achieved our goals. Some people may not be happy with the agreement with the San Francisco Police Department and Mayor Breed, but we got what we asked for; 99% of the law enforcement members will be part of a contingency group in casual wear. Per regulations, police brass is marching in their Class A uniforms.

    During our discussions with the SFPD and the mayor, we were clear that there is still a lot of work to do for all members of the LGBTQ community to feel safe with the police. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. Marginalized community members see that uniform as representing something more than just a uniform.

    But we also acknowledge that there are queer police officers—they are part of our family—and that visibility, which the Pride Alliance speaks to, is also important.

    We want Pride to be a 365-day event. One of the agreements with the Pride Alliance is that we will have several community forums throughout the year that bring together police officers and members of the LGBTQ community, so our community can be seen and heard.

    We are also looking at how we fund Pride. The city doesn’t fund us, and now we are asking to be included in the budget for the first time.

    Also this year for the first time, we have the Kaiser Permanente stage. We appreciate partnering with an organization that shares our equity values.

    But we also have serious generational issues in the LGTBQ community that we must address. Older people in the community see visibility as a cause for celebration; they remember when there were no queer police officers or corporations who would hire anyone who was out. They want acknowledgement and appreciation for their accomplishments over these last 40-to-50 years. They want to celebrate corporate involvement and the Pride Alliance Group.

    For young queer people, being visible is not enough. Visibility is essential, but that’s not the goal; liberation is the goal. Visibility is just a stop on the way. Our younger members see the racism, sexism, and transphobia that exists in the community. They see a lot more work that needs to get done.

    San Francisco is the place to start having these conversations. We have a platform and resources. So, I’m excited to be a part of that effort moving forward.

    I didn’t come out until I was 46 years old. Growing up in Kentucky, I’d watch the Pride event once a year on national news and think, “Oh man, if I could get out to San Francisco, I could find my people.” It took me a long time to find my people, but I did, and now I find myself in this chair, and it’s incredibly gratifying. I know how important it is if you’re a little kid in the closet in a state like Kentucky to see that we exist and that there is a city in this country where we are not only tolerated but are celebrated. I never lose sight of that.

    Through all of this, I know we must ensure that people in our community are seen and heard. But I also must make sure that Pride takes place. That’s our first job—to do our best to give everyone a safe Pride that they deserve. We’re looking forward to an amazing Pride!

    Suzanne Ford is the Interim Executive Director, San Francisco Pride.

    Published on June 23, 2022