Castro Merchants gear up for SF Pride

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday June 6, 2024
Share this Post:
A stilt-walker entertained the crowd at the 2022 Family Pride Block Party in the Castro. Photo: Lauro Gonzalez
A stilt-walker entertained the crowd at the 2022 Family Pride Block Party in the Castro. Photo: Lauro Gonzalez

As Pride Month gets into full swing, members of the Castro Merchants Association heard about upcoming events and safety matters at their June 6 meeting. The association won't meet again till August.

Pride Month events

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, the merchants have been promoting a series of Pride Month events. A new offering announced at the June 6 meeting is "Pride: A Family-Friendly Block Party," presented by the association on Noe Street between Market and Beaver streets on Sunday, June 16, from 1 to 6 p.m.

Oscar Graves of CG Events said this celebration will be similar to the block party that has closed that section of Noe in the past, four times a year including the weekend of the San Francisco Pride parade. However, this event — which is being produced by CG Events — will replace the "Family Pride Block Party," which happened in 2022 and 2023 under the leadership of Lauro Gonzalez, a gay man who is the CEO and founder of ArtyhoodSF.

When asked why there's a new producer of the event, Graves said he didn't know.

Gonzalez didn't answer an email seeking comment.

Graves said there should be no substantive difference between the two events.

"Behind the scenes it's still the same people," Graves said. "We're going to have Drag Queen Story Hours, some dance-a-thons, and craft tables as well."

The afternoon's entertainment will be "curated by Juanita MORE! and the Lookout," Graves said, referring to the LGBTQ bar adjacent to the event's footprint. (MORE! and the Lookout did not return requests for comment.)

Graves also said that while the event will have a "passport" available that people can take to surrounding businesses for deals, organizers are also looking for businesses who might be interested in selling their wares as vendors in the event footprint. The fee for a 10-foot-by-10-foot space is $75.

"We require our vendors to be fairly self-sufficient in terms of providing tables and canopies and those sorts of things," Graves said.

Other events include the public showing of "Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero" on Castro Street to commemorate both the beginning of Frameline48: the San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival and the Juneteenth holiday on Wednesday, June 19.

David Warczak, director of marketing and strategic partnerships for Frameline, said that the 400 block of Castro Street will close at 2 p.m. and will be open by 12:01 a.m. Thursday. A program at 7 p.m. will precede the film screening.

Warczak said that just a week before, June 12, the scaffolding on the Castro Theatre sign will come down, and the restored marquee will be officially relit June 19.

(Another Planet Entertainment, the theater's managers and the leaders of the restoration effort, didn't return a request for comment for this report.)

Also on June 12, at 5 p.m. in Jane Warner Plaza, the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District is holding a memorial in the neighborhood to commemorate the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at the LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, reportedly in retaliation for the killing of an Islamic State leader by a United States-coalition airstrike in Syria, according to multiple media reports. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police. Many of those killed or injured were LGBTQs of color.

Tina Aguirre, a genderqueer Latinx person who is director of the district, said that "the idea June is all celebration is good but it's combined with grief." It's also a chance to link the month's festivities with the fact that "Pride is a protest," they added.

"It's trite to say 'now more than ever,' but it's definitely true we are under attack," Aguirre said.

Pride Month safety

Captain Thomas Harvey, who oversees the San Francisco Police Department's Mission Station, which includes part of the Castro, told the merchants that it will be ready for all coming Pride Month events — but particularly the big weekend of June 29-30, which is when the San Francisco Pride celebration and parade take place.

"Pride we'll be at full staffing at our station and we'll also have a lot of outside help," Harvey said.

That includes two platoons of 50-60 police officers each night, he said.

"They're really great," Harvey said of his officers. "The amount of work and the calls of service they have to handle — being short-staffed and pulled in different directions — they really, really do a great job. I'm not just saying that because I'm their boss."

Greg Carey, a gay man who is chair of Castro Community on Patrol, brought two flyers for merchants to hang in their windows.

The first — "B Safe 4 Pride" — contains "common sense things to make sure you're not a victim of some opportunist who comes along," Carey said.

Advice on the flyer includes not to "get wasted," "go with friends," "don't leave anything unattended," and, if "hooking up," "snap a picture of them and send it to a trusted friend."

The second flyer — which designates a business as a safe space to report hate crimes — states, "This location is a safe place for victims of hate crimes and harassment to call 911 and wait for police to arrive." Businesses would have to agree to actually have employees do that if they want to hang the sign up.

As the B.A.R. previously reported, the original signs — some of which are still up in the Castro — included the words "Safe Space" beneath a Pink Triangle, but this eventually became "Stop Hate," which obscured the purpose of the signs. Carey designed the new signs, as part of his work with the SFPD LGBTQ+ Forum, to be self-explanatory, he said.

"Every place with one of these is a place of safety," Carey said. "People who see these in the windows can see that the community really cares about safety."

Support California's largest LGBTQ newsroom. Your one-time, monthly, or annual contribution advocates for LGBTQ communities. Amplify a trusted voice providing news, information, and cultural coverage to all members of our community, regardless of their ability to pay -- Donate today!