Recent Comments

    Welcome to San Francisco Pride 2015!

    welcome

    By Gary Virginia

    Welcome to the 45th Anniversary of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade & Celebration! The entire city is electric with excitement as we roll out the rainbow carpet and line Market Street with 400 Pride flags to welcome more than a million revelers on June 27 and 28.

    Our LGBT movement has come far since the 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria riot in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, and the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, NY. A year after Stonewall, Pride marches were held in San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. We’re indebted to those brave pioneers who fought back: drag queens, transgender individuals, effeminate young men, male prostitutes, and homeless youth.

    Forty-five years after arrests were made at our first “Christopher Street Liberation Day Gay-In” held in Golden Gate Park, we continue our fight with this year’s SF Pride theme, Equality Without Exception. It was chosen by our members to draw attention to the growing “religious exemption” laws negatively impacting the liberties of women, LGBT people, and other communities.

    Christopher Stoll, National Center for Lesbian Rights Senior Staff Attorney, explained, “This year alone, hundreds of anti-LGBT bills covering a broad range of issues have been introduced in over a dozen state legislatures. Some would allow county clerks and other government officials to refuse to issue marriage licenses or perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. Others would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children with LGBT people. Still others would allow businesses or religious organizations to refuse to sell goods and services to same-sex couples celebrating a wedding, or even to refuse to recognize such couples as legally married for purposes of spousal employment benefits. For the first time in our nation’s history, these laws would apply to private lawsuits seeking to enforce anti- discrimination laws.”

    On a brighter note, by June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court will have ruled on four cases—Obergefell v. Hodges, Tanco v. Haslam, DeBoer v. Snyder and Bourke v. Beshear—each of which concerned the constitutionality of one state’s refusal to recognize marriages that are legal under other states’ laws. A long, hard-fought struggle could end in a positive ruling, ending the issue of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans for all 50 states.

    One of the many ways SF Pride fulfills its mission is through the annual selection of grand marshals and honorees. The Class of 2015 awardees reflects the diversity and culture of our community, each excelling in a unique way. When you read their accomplishments at sfpride.org or in Inside Pride magazine, you will see the critical roles they played in the Compton riot, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, PFLAG, the blind and disabled communities, the annual Pink Triangle on Twin Peaks project, the recording industry and more. They are fundraisers, authors, artists, veterans, activists and community builders of the highest caliber.

    This year, the SF Pride board created a new #MyPride campaign to help drive home our purpose as one of hundreds of Pride organizations around the world. You can view the personal stories as videos uploaded to sfpride.org or on the Internet. During this historic SF Pride season, we encourage you to record your impression of what Pride means to you. Sharing our stories can change minds. Now is the time to build allies and rally votes as the U.S. presidential election nears.

    You can share our message of Equality Without Excep-tion by picking up a souvenir hat, pin, shirt or cinch bag at the two-day festival, online, or at Hard Rock Cafe at Pier 39. Tickets for the Parade Grandstand and VIP Party at City Hall, and money-saving Pride Pass are available at sfpride.org along with an extensive Community Calen-dar of Pride events.

    We’ve come a long way since those 20 “Hair Faeries” marched from Aquatic Park, down Polk Street to City Hall. SF Pride has blossomed into one of the largest parades and festivals in America with 300 exhibitor booths, 23 community-produced stages and venues, and 240 diverse, politically-engaged parade contingents. In addition to being a world leader in the Pride movement, SF Pride has granted nearly $2.4 million to local LGBT and charity organizations since 1997.

    Our event is also a huge economic driver for the Bay Area, with total visitor impact estimated to be $357.1 million.

    Producing the annual parade and celebration for over a million revelers is a year-long effort, superbly managed by Executive Director George Ridgely and a small group of dedicated staff and expert contractors. The $2 million operating budget is very lean while costs keep rising. In the past year, our office rent increased 29%, our insurance costs rose $70,000, and many vendor contracts increased. I encourage the community of businesses and individuals to donate through our Society of Supporters donor club, and at the entrance gates to the festival, which remains free to all.

    An investment in Pride reaps individual and collective returns of self esteem, community empowerment, and brings us closer to our goal of Equality Without Exception. Have a safe, fun, and meaningful SF Pride weekend!

    Gary Virginia is President of the San Francisco Pride Board of Directors.