Protests to mix with virtual SF Pride

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday June 24, 2020
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A crowd arrives in the Tenderloin June 18 during a march for Black trans lives. At least two protest marches are scheduled for June 28, when the in-person San Francisco Pride parade would have taken place. Photo: John Ferrannini
A crowd arrives in the Tenderloin June 18 during a march for Black trans lives. At least two protest marches are scheduled for June 28, when the in-person San Francisco Pride parade would have taken place. Photo: John Ferrannini

It would be hard for the historical irony of this weekend to be lost on anyone — there will be no in-person LGBT Pride parade in San Francisco on the occasion of the event's milestone 50th anniversary.

But that certainly doesn't mean there will be a dearth of activities for people to participate in or watch in one of the birthplaces of the movement for LGBT rights in the United States.

In fact, activists nationwide are seeking to use this landmark anniversary — free as it is from corporate floats and police participation, and in this year of political and social turmoil not seen in decades — to draw Pride to a less assimilationist, more revolutionary posture.

Among those efforts is the People's March and Rally-Unite to Fight, which is being planned for Sunday, June 28, the day that the annual Market Street parade would have taken place.

Among those efforts is the People's March and Rally-Unite to Fight, which is being planned for Sunday, June 28, the day that the annual Market Street parade would have taken place.

The march is scheduled to commence at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Polk and Washington streets. The first San Francisco Pride was a "gay-in" held on Polk Street in June 1970.

"On Sunday, June 28, at the site of the very first Pride March, 50 years ago, we will roar our voices in solidarity with our Black, Brown, Indigenous, trans, and queer family, friends, lovers, and neighbors. We stand in protest of racial injustice, police violence, unjust healthcare, and inadequate unemployment relief. We demand changes," a Facebook event page for the march states.

"We will show up in droves to denounce and condemn police violence against our communities and raise awareness for the need to abolish and defund police departments, which will allow for funds to be reallocated to social services, mental health care providers, and social justice organizations," the post stated.

This march is being spearheaded by Juanita MORE! and Alex U. Inn, according to the Facebook event page.

MORE! did not respond to a request for comment but Inn spoke with the B.A.R. June 22.

Inn said that having a people's Pride event has been a longtime goal, and with the 50th anniversary of Pride coinciding with this moment of national protest, this year is the perfect opportunity.

"This has been a dream of mine for a long time: to have a people's march, to take back Pride," Inn said. "Juanita MORE! said, 'Let's take it back to Polk Street' and I said 'yes.' What better way to do it than now, when the focus is on Black Lives Matter, on putting Black and Brown people up front."

Inn said that the march is completely led by people of color.

"We have a community of activists, community leaders, artists, and performers. Our white advocates are holding the borders and doing what they can to hold us up," Inn said. "We have to keep our feet in the street every single day to protect our Black and Brown people. Period."

Another effort, as previously reported, is the "Pride is a riot" march being planned for the same day.

According to a post on the community news site Indybay, protesters will gather at the intersection of 19th and Dolores streets at noon June 28 before beginning a march at 2 p.m. The post does not identify the organizers.

"We will gather to honor LGBTQ freedom fighters who came before us, to call for the liberation of Black, Brown and Indigenous people, and to demonstrate that trans and queer people are in this fight," the post states. "It is not enough to demand police out of pride. We want police out of schools, police off our streets, police out of all communities. Defund, Dismantle, and Abolish the police!"

Inn said that it'd be great if Pride is a riot and the People's March and Rally could meet up in person.

"We want to collaborate with people, and maybe meet up if we are all in different places," Inn said. "Our vision is to go the original route [of the Pride parade], end up at Civic Center for a rally, and become one Black, Brown, trans, queer protest. It'd be so beautiful to get people together. That's our plan."

SF Pride announces more virtual events
The official parade was, of course, canceled due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has killed over 100,000 Americans since it began late last year. As the B.A.R. previously reported, the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee will be streaming 13 hours of programming on its website.

Last week, SF Pride announced the major performers for its virtual lineup. These performances, which are to replace those normally held at Civic Center Plaza, will be streamed Saturday, June 27, from 1 to 9 p.m. and on Sunday, June 28 from 2 to 7 p.m.

The first performers in the livestream were announced June 12, and include gay bounce musician Big Freedia (who will be Saturday's headliner); gay "American Idol" finalist David Hernandez; Australian singer-songwriter Betty Who; San Francisco-based drag performers Sister Roma, Honey Mahogany, Per Sia, and Yves Saint Croissant; trans artists Urias and Dorian Electra; and queer Chicago rapper Kidd Kenn.

In a news release June 18, more events and performers were announced. Decades of Drag, a conversation among drag artists and activists, will include Heklina, Mahogany, Roma, Landa Lakes, Peaches Christ, and Madd Dogg 20/20.

Additional artists to perform include electronic music artist and activist Madame Gandhi; the gay singer Vincint; Elena Rose; lesbian singer Krystle Warren; Mission district-based singer La Do´┐Ża; and Bay Area-based DJ Lady Ryan.

In a June 23 news release, SF Pride announced that Thelma Houston, who topped the charts with her 1977 hit "Don't Leave Me This Way," will be the Sunday headliner.

"Thelma Houston and Big Freedia are iconic performers whose lives and work are representative of the joy and hope found in performing arts, alongside their role in empowering others as we navigate the struggles of equality and justice. We couldn't be more thrilled that they will headline Pride 50," Fred Lopez, SF Pride's executive director, stated.

"In a year when we are more aware than ever that our culture owes a huge debt to Black voices, these and other artists are elevating the Pride experience," he added. "We are thankful to them as we continue the fight for change and remain resilient. This weekend's lineup will inspire hope as we reflect on the last 50 years, and look ahead."

The programming will also include "a spotlight on Openhouse and the living legacy of Black queer and transgender activism." The spotlight will occur June 28, according to Karyn Skultety, Ph.D., a bi woman who is executive director of Openhouse, an LGBTQ senior agency.

The event will also include Ephraim Getahun, who is an Openhouse community liaison; and Andrea Horne, an Openhouse community member.

SF Pride noted that Imani Rupert-Gordon, a Black woman who is the executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, will be discussing the Black Lives Matter movement. Kim Petras, a trans female singer, will be doing "A deep dive into the history of the LGBTQ+ community in music," the release noted.

"Additional special appearances include Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits, body positive warrior Harnaam Kaur, Alphabet Rockers, Cheer SF (celebrating 40 years!), a conversation on the intersection of Black and gay issues between 'Dear White People' creator Justin Simien and cast member Griffin Matthews, and best-of performances from San Francisco's oldest queer bar The Stud," the SF Pride release states.

Community-themed stages — such as the Latin Stage, the Soul of Pride stage, and the Women's Stage — will be viewable on a concurrent stream.

In lieu of this year's parade, the SF Pride organization is encouraging people to tune into KBCW-TV at 5 p.m. June 28 to watch a three-hour special titled "Pride 50: Generations of Hope."

"This special will feature archival parade footage as well as reflections on the many voices of the annual Pride parade and the diverse viewpoints of LGBTQ+ communities," the release states.

Virtual celebration to honor Phyllis Lyon
HealthRIGHT 360 and Lyon-Martin Health Services will be hosting "A Virtual Rainbow Celebration" at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 25.

The focus will be not only to commemorate the 50th anniversary of SF Pride, but also on the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Lyon-Martin clinic, which primarily serves trans women and people of color.

The celebration will also honor the life of Phyllis Lyon, the LGBT rights pioneer and namesake for the Lyon-Martin clinic who died earlier this year. (Her partner, Del Martin, the clinic's other namesake, passed away in 2008.)

Exploratorium to hold special on rainbows
San Francisco's Exploratorium will be presenting "Full-Spectrum Science: Rainbows" Thursday, June 25, at 7 p.m. Scientist Ron Hipschman will be teaching Facebook and YouTube viewers about the science behind rainbows.

"This Pride Month, we'll look again at the rainbow in all its glory — from its meaning in the Pride flag to the optics of real rainbows to rainbows in art and popular culture," an Exploratorium news release states. "You'll even learn how to make rainbows of your own."

Openhouse intergenerational event
Openhouse will have an intergenerational Pride event at 11 a.m. Friday, June 26. Viewers can watch it on the Openhouse website.

Skultety told the B.A.R. via phone June 19 that the LGBTQ senior prom scheduled for June 25 had been canceled because "a lot of folks aren't accessing virtual programs yet," and to give Openhouse more space to focus on both the Trans March and the intergenerational event.

Skultety said that the content of this event was informed by the recent protests against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter cause.

"We wanted to focus on Black trans seniors and really uplift them in an integrated event," Skultety said.

The event will include performances, poems, speeches, and a panel of Black trans seniors and youth "talking about the current moment," Skultety said.

"I got the chance to see some of the recordings of the performances and it's going to be really amazing," Skultety said. "We try to make decisions with, and not for, seniors, because seniors are grown-up people."

Trans March to go virtual
According to SF Pride, the annual Trans March will be virtual this year and will be held Friday, June 26.

The event will commence after the intergenerational event. There will be a streaming virtual stage from 2 to 7 p.m. with performers and speakers. An online after party the following day, "Bustin Out: Party Against the Prison Industrial Complex," is being hosted by the TGI Justice Project, which is trying to raise $60,000 for Black trans abolitionist organizing.

Wiener to discuss Pride history exhibit
Gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) will be discussing the exhibit "SF Pride 2020 — 50 years" with its curator, Joseph Abbati, Friday, June 26, at 6 p.m.

Wiener, who is in a reelection fight this year with Jackie Fielder, a queer educator, will also be discussing his current legislative work on behalf of the community.

Specifically, Wiener is planning on discussing Senate Bill 132, which would require incarcerated transgender individuals in the custody of the state's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to be classified and housed with other inmates based on the gender identity of their choice, and Senate Bill 932, which would mandate attempting to collect the sexual orientation and gender identity data of COVID-19 patients.

'Generation Pride'
"Generation Pride: A Radical Reclamation of our Roots" will be occurring from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 27 — the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots that Pride events commemorate each year.

"Generation Pride is a multi-event virtual celebration produced by leadership development nonprofit hub the Social Impact Center, spearheaded by executive director and community organizer and activist Felicia Carbajal; celebrity florist, event producer, and cannabis advocate, The Flower Daddy; and womxn and nonbinary creative and activist group, Tree Femme Collective," a news release states.

Registration is free on the website of the Tree Femme Collective.

Longtime gay activist Cleve Jones will be speaking at 11:15 a.m. in an event titled "Legacy of Revolutionary Acts."

In a June 19 phone interview with the B.A.R., Jones said that while he is glad people have found creative ways to commemorate Pride weekend, it is fitting people are using this opportunity to protest.

"I don't want another party," Jones said. "I want a revolution."

"American capitalism has an extraordinary ability to commodify just about everything. I remember, when the feminist movement wanted the Equal Rights Amendment and the tobacco industry came out with Virginia Slims: 'You've come a long way, Baby!'" Jones added. "Now homosexuality, once condemned by church and state, is a marketing tool. I don't want to sound cynical, but this country is currently facing its worst crisis since World War II, and I am proud that people are foregoing the usual way of doing Pride and are hitting the streets. I hope to see more of it."

Jones will also be participating in a "Zoomside chat" with gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman at 2 p.m. Friday, June 26.

Mr. S Leather continues jockstrap party
Mr. S Leather, the South of Market provider of all things BDSM, will be holding its Pride jock strap party virtually via Zoom from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 27. Log-in information is available on the Facebook event page.

"Strip down to your jock and get down and dirty with us," the Facebook event page states. "We might not have the opportunity to get together in person but that's not going to stop us from throwing our infamous Pride Jockstrap Party. Join us on Zoom for a sexy addition to your Pride weekend."

Music will be played by Beats by DJ Fawks and DJ Jumpr from Fog City Pack.

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