2 parades to greet SF pridegoers

  • by Eric Burkett, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday June 22, 2022
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Images in collage by Gooch
Images in collage by Gooch

It's been three years since San Francisco last celebrated Pride with its usual extravagance — COVID, like any unwanted guest, saw to that — but now, the fête is back this weekend under the theme "Love Will Keep Us Together" and people, hundreds of thousands of them, are ready to party. In person.

If the big, hourslong parade with its thousands of participants and floats, music, and celebrities isn't your thing, however, there's an alternative parade, the People's March-Unite to Fight, with a decidedly more activist focus and organized by drag impresario Juanita MORE! and activist Alex U. Inn. That event will follow the route of the original Pride parade back in 1970, when 30 folks marched down Polk Street, then the heart of LGBTQ San Francisco before the Castro rose to prominence.

Both parades are Sunday, June 26.

Leaders of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee are excited about the return of the SF Pride parade, the first in-person march since 2019.

"After two years, the return to an in-person celebration for San Francisco Pride will be an uplifting showcase of some of the best LGBTQ+ luminaries, leaders, and community groups the San Francisco Bay Area has to offer," Suzanne Ford, San Francisco Pride interim executive director, stated in a press release. "This will be a historic moment in our fight for inclusion, acceptance, and equality for all LGBTQ+ people, as we come together in solidarity to celebrate the progress that has been made, while responding with love, activism, and radical inclusion against discriminatory laws that are being enacted across the country at an alarming rate."

Recent Bay Area incidents involving alleged Proud Boys members hijacking a drag queen storytime event at the San Lorenzo Public Library and a bomb threat to gay state Senator Scott Wiener's (D-San Francisco) home and offices have the San Francisco Police Department on alert, officials said. The public can expect to see officers out in force, an SFPD statement said. (See related story.)

A controversy around LGBTQ police officers and other first responders being allowed to march in uniform was resolved earlier this month. () The SF Pride board had decided in 2020 that LGBTQ SFPD officers would not be allowed to march in uniform after fallout from a protest during the 2019 parade where police were summoned and the event was delayed for nearly an hour. The dustup led San Francisco Mayor London Breed and gay District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey to threaten to boycott the parade unless the issue was resolved. Ultimately, a compromise was reached whereby command staff will be allowed to march in uniform while officers and others will wear something else.

SF Pride parade

The SF Pride parade itself begins at 10:30 a.m. at Market and Beale streets, and progresses up Market, and is expected to last four to five hours. SF Pride will accept donations, which can be made in $5 increments on cards at the gates to the Civic Center festival, although you won't find the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence running the gates as they have in years past. You will, however, have to pass through security with walk-through metal detectors, hand held metal detectors, and additional searches if necessary. (That has been in place since the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016.)

"We will not have any community partners working the gates or beverages this year," said Ford. "We are still contributing part of the proceeds to these groups, but we are giving them the weekend off this year."

Two years of the COVID pandemic, with its quarantines and lockdowns, has had an impact on the parade, and this year there will be a little over 200 contingents marching, about 30% fewer than in 2019, Ford stated in an email to the Bay Area Reporter.

Members of Dykes on Bikes led the 2019 San Francisco Pride parade. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland  

That said, longtime favorites Dykes on Bikes will lead the parade again this year, and SF Pride organizers are particularly excited about a new group participating in the parade: Girls Garage. The Berkeley-based group describes itself as a nonprofit design-and-construction school for girls and gender-expansive youth ages 9-18, providing "free and low-cost programs in carpentry, welding, architecture, engineering, and activist art to a diverse community of 300 students per year," according to its website.

As with Pride celebrations in previous years — this is Pride 52 — the festivities will run for two days beginning with the festival at Civic Center Plaza from noon to 6 p.m. June 25, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 26. There you'll find food, beverages, vendors, and plenty of entertainment including two-time Grammy Award nominee Martha Wash headlining the main stage. Wash, who along with Izora Armstead formed Two Tons O' Fun, the backup duo for disco legend Sylvester, went on with Armstead to form The Weather Girls and released that eternal dance floor classic, "It's Raining Men."

Grand marshals
Celebrity grand marshals for Pride 52 include bisexual actor and comedian Sherry Cola of the television series "Good Trouble," and trans "Jeopardy!" champion Amy Schneider. Main stage festivities will be hosted by drag queens and activists Per Sia and Yves Saint Croissant on June 25; and District 6 supervisor candidate and San Francisco Democratic Party Chair Honey Mahogany and the legendary Sister Roma on Sunday, June 26. Additional entertainment will be provided by Jinkx Monsoon & Major Scales, HYM the Rapper, and DJ LadyRyan, while San Francisco's official cheerleading squad Cheer SF, Auras: A Rave Dance Experience, and Roryography will keep everyone dancing.

This year's community grand marshals were selected by the Pride membership, board, and the public.

They are: Melanie DeMore, a Grammy-nominated singer/composer, choral conductor, music director, and vocal activist; Vinny Eng, who serves on the board of Openhouse, an organization focused on LGBTQIA+ seniors, and also co-chairs the policy committee of the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club Board of Directors; Amber Gray, a group facilitator and public service aide for the City and County of San Francisco's Community Behavioral Health Services; and Socorro "Cori" Moreland, founder and CEO of Brotherhood510, a resource and education group for Black trans masculine people.

Other community grand marshals are Mellanique "Black" Robicheaux, a 30-year veteran DJ who couldn't play in queer clubs because of racism so she paved her own way in the 1990s hip-hop scene by opening her own clubs and producing memorable parties like Tight, Rise, Dream EZ, Hella Gay, and Ships in the Night; and Andrea Horne, a Black trans woman who is this year's lifetime achievement grand marshal.

This year's honored organization is the African American Art & Culture Complex, a Black arts and cultural institution in the Fillmore. The arts and empowerment organization provides "space for Black creatives, healers, and activists all over the Bay Area to create art, host provocative conversations, and bring people together in joy, mourning, and political power." Last year queer African American Arts and Culture Complex co-executive directors and twin sisters Melonie and Melorra Green were community grand marshals.

People's March
If you're looking for more activism and no commercial glitz, then the People's March is where you should be headed.

"Pride is not a parade," said People's March co-organizer Inn, "it's a protest and it should be looked at that way." Inn has helped organize the event, the third now, along with drag artist MORE!

The People's March seeks to put Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Native people front and center, and to do it without money from corporate sponsors and without police, Inn said.

Following the original route of San Francisco's first LGBTQ parade 52 years ago, the event begins with a rally at 10 a.m. at Washington and Polk streets. After some speakers at 11, marchers will hit the streets, continuing down Polk and will end up at a location yet to be determined. (The People's March previously ended outside City Hall, but that's where SF Pride's festival is this year.)

"If some guys are passionate and go over, we'll start at noon," said Inn, referring to the march start time.

Brazilian singer Pabllo Vittar performed on the main stage at SF Pride in 2019. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland  

Castro events
Over in the Castro, on Saturday, June 25, the Castro Merchants Association is throwing its Castro Family Pride Block Party — the first — from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Noe Street between Market and Beaver streets. Look for plenty of family-friendly fare including a petting zoo, live music, drag queen storytime and performances, free photos with "the fabulous Castro Unicorn'' and — wait for it — the Drag Performer of the Year contest, where contestants will compete for a $1,000 prize under the attentive eyes of celebrity judges Breed, Reggie Aqui (a gay man who's a news anchor at ABC7, the official broadcast partner of SF Pride), Fernando Ventura (LGBTQ DJ at 99.7 FM), and drag artist Juicy Liu (aka Michael Nguyen, a board member of GLBTQ+ Asian Pacific Alliance). Semi-finals for the contest begin at noon and then finalists will square off at 4 p.m. Admission is free.

Plans for a Pink Saturday-type event in the Castro appear to have fallen through. Gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman told the B.A.R. Tuesday morning that Soul of Pride, which had planned to host A Touch of Pink the evening of June 25, does not have a valid permit from the Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation, which is out of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, or ISCOTT.

"I don't think there's going to be a Pink Saturday," Mandelman said. "As of this morning they do not have a valid permit, which leads me to believe there's not going to be a Pink Saturday in the Castro this year."

ISCOTT stated in an email that the permit was "revoked for failure to meet permit conditions."

"The event will not be allowed to set up stages or otherwise activate the area," the email stated.

Mandelman said that following this weekend's Pride festivities it would be a good time to start planning for next year.

"There's plenty going on this weekend," he added.

Mario B. Productions, a producer of the event, and Lisa Williams with Soul of Pride, told the B.A.R. that they were not aware of any permit snafus.

Soul of Pride is expected to host the Global Village at the Pride festival in Civic Center this weekend.

Participants in the 2019 Trans March carried flags down Market Street. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Other events
This year the Trans March and rally will return Friday, June 24. Under the theme, "Back in Person 2022," the event begins with a rally at Mission Dolores Park, located at 19th and Dolores streets. The day starts with the Señora Felicia Flames Intergenerational Brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by a resource fair and community stage from 3 to 6 p.m. Then the march begins, ending at Turk and Taylor streets in the Tenderloin.

An after-party, "Bustin' Out," will be held at El Rio, 3158 Mission Street. It's a benefit for the Trans, Gender-Variant, and Intersex Justice Project.

For more information, including the march's guidelines, click here.

The 30th Dyke March is set for Saturday, June 25, beginning at 5 p.m. at Dolores and 18th streets. Organizers stated on the website that there would not be a pre-march rally at Dolores Park this year.

The San Francisco Dyke March is for dykes, the website states.

"Dykes gather at the Dyke March to celebrate our love and passion for women and for ALL dykes. We celebrate our queerness in all its manifestations," organizers stated. "We understand dyke identity to include those of us who are questioning and challenging gender constructs and the social definitions of women: transdyke, MTF, transfeminine, transmasculine, genderqueer, and gender fluid dykes. We also welcome all women who want to support dykes to march with us. Celebrate dyke diversity!

"We continue to hold the Dyke March as dyke-only space. We invite our male allies to ... support us from the sidelines during our march," the website stated.

More information is here.

For more information on SF Pride, click here. For more information on the People's March, click here.

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