Merchants' Family Pride to mark Pink Sat. in Castro

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday June 21, 2023
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A stilt-walker entertained the crowd at last year's Family Pride Block Party in the Castro. Photo: Lauro Gonzalez-Arias
A stilt-walker entertained the crowd at last year's Family Pride Block Party in the Castro. Photo: Lauro Gonzalez-Arias

There isn't an official dance party planned for the Castro LGBTQ neighborhood on Pink Saturday, but families looking for Pride options are in luck with the Family Pride Block Party being hosted by the Castro Merchants Association.

Lauro Gonzalez-Arias, a gay man who is the CEO and founder of ArtyhoodSF, told the Bay Area Reporter that the event will be on Noe Street, between Market and Beaver streets, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 24. A similar event was held Easter weekend.

"There are a bunch of activities for families and kids, and also adults," Gonzalez-Arias said. "It's really fun [and] for families to have a good time."

This is the second year of this particular Pride event, Gonzalez-Arias said.

Separately, last year, it'd been expected that the Pink Saturday dance party in the Castro would be returning after the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence shied away from hosting the event in 2015, saying at the time it could no longer guarantee the safety of visitors.

That year the San Francisco LGBT Community Center oversaw Pink Saturday, but the unofficial kickoff to Pride in the Castro hasn't been held since. Last year, Soul of Pride — which stepped up to offer the event — had its permit revoked by the city, which stated Soul of Pride failed to meet the city's conditions.

This year Soul of Pride will be at the official SF Pride celebration in Civic Center Plaza hosted by the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee; this leaves the merchants' event as the only outdoor event of its kind scheduled in the Castro for Pink Saturday.

There had been some discussion among the merchants of having an event on Castro Street; but the logistics would have been too difficult to figure out in time, Gonzalez-Arias said.

"Everyone had been wanting to do that," Gonzalez-Arias said. "I'd love to do an event on Castro Street but we were a bit late. We needed to do an application months before. Everything depends on the funding and who can pay for that. It takes a lot to do an event like that, closing Castro [Street], but people need to come together and say it if they want it."

Gonzalez-Arias normally does events for the merchants along Noe Street, adjacent to the gay bar Lookout. He said there will be no shortage of fun Saturday.

"We're going to have drag story time, pictures with the Castro unicorn, arts and crafts and a drag performer of the year contest," he said, adding the drag performer competition, which only adults can enter, will go through three rounds of voting before a final round.

People interested in entering the competition — which has a $1,000 cash prize — can do so online.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. there will be a petting zoo, costume contest, arts and crafts, balloon twisting, a drag story time, music and entertainment. Starting at 2 p.m. will be the drag competition and drag entertainment.

Mx Kiki Krunch, a Filipina trans woman and drag performer, will be one of those performing at the event.

"As someone new performing here in San Francisco, I think this competition gives a bigger platform for newbies," she told the B.A.R. "It is fun and at the same time relevant because it holds the name Castro, which is an iconic place here in the city. Castro symbolizes freedom of expression, love, and the beauty of the LGBTQIA community. As a transwoman in this competition, I hope to help raise and send the message that drag is not and will never be a crime."

States such as Tennessee and Florida have passed laws targeting drag performances in public spaces and in the presence of minors. Tennessee's law was ruled unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds earlier this month.

"We will also be holding an Art Mart throughout the entire day, along with other fun surprises," a merchants' news release states. "Bring the whole family down to experience Pride as only the world-famous Castro can! Afterwards, make sure to explore and support local Castro small businesses."

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