Sunny SF Pride parade 'more magical than usual'

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Monday July 1, 2024
Share this Post:
People danced as they carried the Latino Wellness Center banner in the June 30 San Francisco Pride parade. Photo: John Ferrannini
People danced as they carried the Latino Wellness Center banner in the June 30 San Francisco Pride parade. Photo: John Ferrannini

The summer sun shone down on a packed Market Street for San Francisco's LGBTQ Pride parade June 30, marking the end of a celebratory month and commemorating the 55th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which inaugurated the movement for queer liberation in the United States.

The parade kicked off at 10:30 a.m. with the Dykes on Bikes roaring from Drumm Street, leading 50,000 people who were part of 220 contingents for several hours up Market Street to Eighth Street. Crowds also flocked to a few blocks away, in the Civic Center Plaza, for a celebration featuring grand marshal gay actor and singer Billy Porter, and an appearance by Congressmember Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), among others.

Celebrity grand marshal actor Billy Porter waved to the crowd during the June 30 San Francisco Pride parade. Photo: Steven Underhill  

The Dykes on Bikes were followed by a Resistance contingent and a contingent from the Party for Socialism and Liberation with signs that read "Pride Means Fight Back! LGBTQ Solidarity with Palestine," and chanting "stop the U.S. war machine!" As the Bay Area Reporter also reported, some pro-Palestinian groups boycotted the Pride parade, due to the participation of politicians, including Mayor London Breed, who opposed a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war earlier this year and groups that demonstrators said supported or worked with Israel.

Nguyen Pham, a gay man who is president of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee's board of directors, which puts on the festivities, told the B.A.R., "We all should be proud of what we achieved this past Pride week, including our successful SF Pride weekend. Our tireless staff deserve particular flowers on a job supremely well done."

SF Pride officials said there were no major delays in the parade this year. Contingents ranged from pro-Palestinian groups to Jewish groups to churches, nonprofit organizations, the popular Everyone Loves A Corgi group, and plenty of people dancing on floats.

Pham continued that many long-term attendees asserted this year's Pride was the "greatest in the organization's history."

"Mother Nature must be queer, as she lovingly bathed San Francisco in glorious sunshine all weekend," Pham stated, adding "San Francisco is truly a Beacon of Love," referring to this year's theme.

Ashton Oleary, a 23-year-old gay San Diegan, went to the parade and celebration. It was his first time in San Francisco.

"I always wanted to see San Francisco but never knew when the time was right," he said. "After meeting new faces from San Fran in other areas for Pride, I knew that would be my reason to go, during Pride. It was a win-win for the first time exploring San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Painted Ladies, and beautiful parks and streets with the sound of nice breeze blowing in the summer heat, as well as the new astonishing pride events and new faces I've met during the weekend."

Oleary said he looks "forward to coming again soon."

Gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) waved to the crowd wearing a pink windbreaker atop a truck surrounded by supporters.

"The parade was even more magical than usual," Wiener told the B.A.R. "Such a strong showing by the community — displaying joy and love — during some tough times politically. I'm so proud of San Francisco and everything this city stands for."

Gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman agreed that "this weekend's Pride celebration was a blast and reinforced what we already knew — no one does Pride like San Francisco!"

Mandelman, who represents the Castro on the city's Board of Supervisors, continued, "It's an opportunity for us to share our queer culture and values with the world — it's also a huge economic boon for our city and local businesses — especially for our bars, restaurants, retailers and hotels."

His two gay colleagues on the board — Supervisors Joel Engardio (District 4) and Matt Dorsey (District 6) — also participated in the parade. Engardio rode in the parade with his husband, Lionel Hsu.

"We met in San Francisco in the 2000s and were married here the year when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed same-sex marriage nationwide," Engardio stated. "You could say miracles happen, but I was able to marry my husband because of all the work San Francisco did to change hearts and minds and push the legal case for marriage equality. The work isn't finished. Transgender people are under attack and the freedom to marry granted by one Supreme Court could be taken away by the justices of another."

Dorsey didn't return a request for comment.

Spectators lined Market Street to watch the June 30 San Francisco Pride parade. Photo: Steven Underhill  

Mayoral candidates make pitches
Breed and the four major candidates running to replace her joined in the festivities too, trying to harness the power of the city's LGBTQ community at the ballot box. They all committed to protecting hard-won LGBTQ rights in the city.

Breed was decked out in a silver outfit, as her contingent was themed to Beyoncé's Renaissance tour, at which attendees wore silver.

Mayor London Breed, second from left, channels her inner Beyoncé at the San Francisco Pride parade. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

She stated, "Days like today are why I am proud to be the mayor of San Francisco."

"While other states are banning books, our local businesses are sending books to LGBTQ people all over. That's who we are," she stated, referring to the Castro's Fabulosa Books sending books to community centers in red states, as the B.A.R. previously reported, where they have been banned from school libraries. "People continue to come here from all over the world to experience Pride and what this community has created here in San Francisco. More than anything, today's Pride parade is an example that San Francisco is on the rise! I want us to be proud of what we've achieved and optimistic for our future."

Her leading challenger in the polls, former supervisor and mayor Mark Farrell, posted on X with local drag performers. "And they said I couldn't name three drag queens," he wrote. (At recent debates, Farrell has struggled to name drag artists.)

"The Pride parade represents the best of San Francisco," Farrell stated to the B.A.R. "My family, supporters, and I were honored to participate again and send a strong message our city will always be a shining beacon of hope and love to all people across the world."

Illuminate had its 4.1-mile rainbow laser beaming from the foot of Market Street for Pride weekend. Photo: Ed Walsh  

Daniel Lurie, a former nonprofit executive and heir to the Levi's fortune, was joined by supporters holding signs of his name printed out in the colors of the rainbow flag. In a comical nod to his being a first-time candidate for public office, and thus not as well known as the other top contenders in the mayoral race, one sign asked, "Daniel Curious?"

He stated that "today, we celebrate the values that are central to this city—and we do it with pride. While our LGBTQ+ community is under attack nationwide, San Francisco continues to set the tone on what it means to be a beacon of tolerance and inclusivity for the nation and world."

Mayoral candidate and Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, who represents District 3, marched with the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, which endorsed him in late June. He, too, utilized the Pride flag colors to spell out his first name in oversized letters carried by supporters and attached to the front of a truck in his contingent.

"It was a great, great honor to march with the Harvey Milk club and celebrate the queer activist who helped set a national movement on fire," Peskin stated, referring to the slain supervisor for whom the club is named and had participated in the 1978 Pride parade as the first gay elected politician in the city and state of California. "The enthusiasm and energy was full-blast. But there is also a somber side, as we stare down the barrel of a possible Trump/MAGA sweep and all that means to LGBTQ freedom."

District 10 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, who's also running for mayor, told the B.A.R. that this year's Pride was "one of the best celebrations I have been a part of."

"San Francisco is and will continue to be a beacon of acceptance, love, compassion and sanctuary," stated Safaí, whose signs in the parade also used rainbow-color lettering to spell out his first name. "We marched to highlight the beauty of our community, and I am proud to always participate in the Pride parade every single year for the past 24 years."

Never miss a story! Keep up to date on the latest news, arts, politics, entertainment, and nightlife.
Sign up for the Bay Area Reporter's free weekday email newsletter. You'll receive our newsletters and special offers from our community partners.

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!