The LGBT community has been fighting for visibility, dignity, and equality for many years. 1970 was the first year of their Pride Celebrations and Parades in the cities of San Francisco, New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles after a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village sparked the Stonewall riots in 1969. This year, on June 26th 2015 the US Supreme Court announced that Same-Sex Marriage is legal nationwide. With the 45th Anniversary of San Francisco’s Pride Celebrations and Parades occurring on that following weekend, June 27th & 28th, they couldn’t have had more perfect timing. I had been planning on going all year long and now I was even more thrilled to be a part of these exciting events.
Ready to celebrate, Katie and I awoke on Sunday morning and got a ride to the train station. From there we bought tickets and jumped on to head downtown to Market Street where the festivities were taking place. Not exactly sure where on Market Street to get off, we followed the crowd dressed in rainbows and brightly colored clothing and exited about the fifth stop with them. We came up to the street level and found ourselves at the end of the parade route. Making our way to the street to where everyone was set to watch.
We caught the beginning of the parade. The first group to pass us was the AIDS Life Cycling Team. They were quickly followed by the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Committee who I must say did an amazing job putting the parade together. In true form they carried signs that read “Equality Without Exception,” their theme for this years’ parade, and rainbow flags. They wore rainbow clothing and behind them was a big float with a balloon made rainbow, rainbow colored globe, and performers riding on it.
The diversity of the groups supporting within the parade was immense. From local community public safety departments to professional companies and even some schools. It seemed like everyone wanted to be a part of the parade. We saw the San Francisco Fire Department, San Francisco Police Department, Irish pipers, marching bands, percussion bands, cheerleaders, and other companies such as animal rescue shelters, Apple, Wells Fargo, Facebook, and even Netflix. There were people in costumes including Tigger, Chip, dogs and clowns, people on stilts waving at the audience, and floats that were magnificent. Everyone was smiles for miles, laughing and having a great time.
One of my favorite groups were the Golden State Warriors. There was some down time before they arrived as a small break in the parade. There percussion band, wearing all yellow, was the perfect pick me up the crowd needed. We could hear them coming down the street and the energy of everyone increased more and more as they got closer. They worked the crowd getting close to us and drumming their own beats when the unison song was ended. They were amazing.
My next favorite groups were Netflix, the animal shelter, and the Recology and PG&E companies. Netflix had characters from a few of their original shows standing on their float with those characters acting exactly how they would act in person. Crazy Eyes from Orange is the New Black was on point! The animal shelter had dogs walking in the parade wearing rainbow skirts and hats. Recology and PG&E companies had their mascots in toe. These last three were too cute for words.
We had seen the majority of the floats in the parade when it eventually stalled to a halt. It was past the time the parade was supposed to be over by according to the website so rather than wait for the parade to start moving again Katie and I decided to walk the rest of it. Not exactly the way a parade works, but it got us through a few more floats before we decided to call it a day and get some food.
San Francisco PRIDE was a blast. With all the floats, characters, colors, and spectacles I was pleased with the outcome and the decision to take the trip north to check it out. I might go back next year to see it again. It’s definitely something you should experience once in your lifetime, no matter what age you are.