SF hoping to be 'Beacon of Love' this Pride weekend

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday June 26, 2024
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Staff from Alaska Airlines marched in last year's San Francisco Pride parade. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Staff from Alaska Airlines marched in last year's San Francisco Pride parade. Photo: Rick Gerharter

The San Francisco LGBTQ Pride parade will start making its way up Market Street from Beale Street at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, June 30. The parade is the highlight of a full weekend of festivities celebrating the 55th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the beginning of the modern movement for LGBTQ rights in the United States.

This year's theme is "Beacon of Love."

The parade will go from Beale Street to Eighth Street, where it intersects with a second day of a celebration at the Civic Center Plaza from noon to 6 p.m. The first day of the Civic Center Plaza celebration will be Saturday, June 29, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"In the spirit of love, and as we prepare for the world's most iconic Pride Parade and Celebration, we affirm the principle of radical inclusion," the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee Inc.'s website states, explaining the theme.

Suzanne Ford, a transgender woman who is the executive director of the SF Pride organization, stated that the theme was chosen because it "encapsulates the spirit of San Francisco Pride."

"As we prepare to welcome millions of participants from around the world, we invite everyone to join us in celebrating love, diversity, and the ongoing fight for justice," Ford stated. "Together, we will light the way toward a more inclusive and equitable future."

Nguyen Pham, a gay man who is president of the Pride board of directors, stated, "We are proud to unveil 'Beacon of Love' as the theme for this year's Pride celebration."

"In the face of adversity, San Francisco continues to shine as a beacon of hope and progress for the LGBTQ+ community and a place that authentically champions radical inclusion," he continued. "This theme reflects our commitment to love, acceptance, and the ongoing fight for equality."

The organization that puts on the parade and celebration will also be hosting a party inside San Francisco City Hall Sunday afternoon, from 1 to 5 p.m., featuring grand marshal and the celebration's main stage headliner Billy Porter. The gay actor who is HIV-positive starred as Pray Tell on the FX series "Pose."

Porter, a Grammy, Emmy, and two-time Tony Award winner, is also known to many for his Broadway performance in "Kinky Boots." Porter did not return requests for comment for this report through his representatives.

Admission to the parade and celebration is free; tickets to the City Hall event start at $150 and can be bought on Eventbrite.

There will be several stages of entertainment and programming at the celebration on the plaza, including a trans futures community stage, a youth community stage, a Soul of Pride community stage, an Asian and Pacific Islander community stage, and the Latin stage.

The Latin stage is being produced by gay Oakland LGBTQ club owner Valentino Carrillo and Club Papi Parties.

"Valentino Presents and Club Papi are excited to invite you out to the Don Julio Latin Stage at The Steamworks Pavilion at San Francisco Pride this year with special guest Mariana Seoane," Carrillo told the B.A.R.

Seoane is a Mexican actress, model and singer.

"The tradition continues at Pride's hottest stage, keeping you dancing all day long," Carrillo touted. "We have an amazing weekend lineup of parties for you to check out."

Community grand marshals

The parade features several other grand marshals. For community grand marshals, musician and vocalist Tory Teasley was the public choice.

Teasley told the B.A.R. that "to become a beacon of love, one must be willing to be visible, inspiring others to be their authentic selves."

"As a Black trans woman, embracing joy and practicing radical love is my form of protest — my riot," Teasley continued. "This intrinsic part of me is untouchable and indestructible. And as a singer, my voice will not be silenced. I will speak out for my community and stand against patriarchal conditioning and colonial oppression. I will always do this with love."

The organizational grand marshal is the nonprofit Children's After School Arts, or CASA.

Leslie Einhorn, founder and executive director of CASA, told the B.A.R., "I started CASA over 25 years ago after being fired from a teaching job for being gay. Since then, CASA has served as a safe space for LGBTQ+ educators and artists and a nurturing environment where San Francisco kids can express themselves through art and creativity."

"CASA is thrilled, delighted, and bursting with pride to be serving as a community grand marshal! We are deeply honored to be joining the ranks of 30+ years of past marshals who are the artists, activists and policymakers who have made this city so fabulously queer," Einhorn continued. "We are delighted to parade in honor of our queer San Francisco ancestors and San Francisco families — here in the city where Harvey Milk helped to defeat the Briggs initiative. We will be marching in honor of queer liberation and liberation for all children and families."

(The Briggs initiative would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools. It was defeated by California voters in 1978.)

The members of SF Pride selected Nicole Adler, a developmental disabilities and LGBTQ communities advocate, as a grand marshal, and the committee's board of directors rounded out the community grand marshals with the selections of Rebecca Rolfe, a lesbian who's the longtime executive director of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center; nonbinary queer activist Xander Briere; and Xavier Davenport, a trans masculine community leader.

Rolfe told the B.A.R., "I am incredibly grateful for this recognition and proud to be a part of San Francisco Pride's vibrant legacy. In these extraordinary times, seeking, creating, and celebrating joy remains a powerful act of solidarity."

"With the ongoing barrage of attacks against LGBTQ+ rights nationwide, it is also crucial for places like San Francisco, which is seen as a beacon for LGBTQ+ folks, to strengthen its support for our communities further through initiatives like becoming a sanctuary city for transgender, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, and Two-Spirit people," Rolfe continued. "We have witnessed the impact of this firsthand at the Center, as we continue to see violence in all its forms affect community members who walk in through our doors and with the increased demand for our services due to the influx of LGBTQ+ individuals migrating to San Francisco and fleeing hate-fueled violence all over the country."

Adler told the B.A.R. that looking at prior grand marshals made her feel overwhelmed that she, too, will soon be among their ranks.

"When I see who went before me, I can't believe it," Adler stated. "It's a true honor. I feel like I am getting the opportunity to make a difference. It allows me to have a global platform to spread my mission of creating a love revolution by promoting peace, equality and acceptance for all, which is perfectly aligned with the 'Beacon of Love' theme for this year's Pride event. It's a reminder that we can ALL be Beacons of Love, including LGBTQIA+ allies.

"I am taking real action to end the hate and ignite a human rights movement to put people first, always! It's all about gaining global acceptance to allow ALL people the unequivocal right to love who they choose to love without judgment or discrimination," Adler stated.

Briere and Davenport did not return requests for comment.

The team from Gilead Sciences marched with rainbow balloons in last year's San Francisco Pride parade. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Other events
The Pride parade is not the only event marking the weekend. The San Francisco Trans March will make its way from Mission Dolores Park to the intersection of Turk and Taylor streets at 6 p.m. Friday, June 28, according to Niko Storment, a trans man who is the production manager of the march.

That intersection was where an August 1966 riot at Gene Compton's Cafeteria, a diner frequented by LGBTQ people, was one of the first uprisings against police harassment by queer people, three years before Stonewall. (The exact date is lost to history.)

"In San Francisco, the transgender community stood up and fought police repression and brutality," Storment said. "Though the world tells us we don't matter a lot of the time, our voices are at the front of making these changes and catalyzing the next era."

Storment said that from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. there'll be an intergenerational luncheon at the Women's Building, 3543 18th Street No. 8. Then from 2 to 6 p.m. there'll be a resource fair at Dolores Park, where trans people can get connected with HIV resources and gender-affirming care information. At 7:30, once the march has reached Turk and Taylor streets, there'll be a rally with "some speakers who will empower us to go into the rest of Pride," Storment said.

Finally, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., there'll be an afterparty at the El Rio bar at 3158 Mission Street and the adjacent bar Mothership at 3152 Mission Street.

The San Francisco Dyke March also usually launches from Dolores Park on the Saturday afternoon before the Pride parade. But Dyke March representatives didn't return a request for comment for this report, and the website's information has not been updated since 2023.

Juanita MORE! will be hosting her annual Pride party, celebrating its 20th anniversary, June 30 at 620 Jones Street, from noon to 7 p.m.

"Each year, I have taken great pleasure in seeking out some of our community's most impactful organizations as beneficiaries. The community has helped raise over $1 million for local charities by supporting events I have organized over the past three decades. I cannot thank everyone enough for all your contributions over those years," MORE! stated. "This year, I have chosen the LYRIC Center of LGBTQQ Youth (Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center) in the San Francisco Bay Area as my annual Pride Party beneficiary. ... I want to keep building our future by supporting our queer youth in their quest to carry on the legacy of our queer elders."

LYRIC Executive Director Gael I. Lala-Chávez, who is nonbinary, told the B.A.R., "This opportunity couldn't have come at a more crucial time for us at LYRIC. It's almost as if Juanita MORE! heard our concerns in her dreams, as we were facing the possibility of substantial funding cuts due to the city budget deficit."

As the B.A.R. previously reported, LYRIC was among several nonprofits serving LGBTQ youth facing budget cuts from the city.

"The funds raised from the Juanita MORE! Pride event will go straight to youth stipends, helping to sustain their livelihoods and ensuring they have the resources they need to thrive," Lala-Chávez stated. "The support from the Juanita MORE! Pride event will be nothing short of a lifeline for LYRIC, ensuring that we can continue providing critical services to our community."

"I cannot thank Juanita MORE! enough for selecting LYRIC as this year's beneficiary," Lala-Chavez concluded.

Tickets will be available at the door of the event for $75.

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