5th annual SF People's March is ready to rumble

  • by Eric Burkett
  • Wednesday June 19, 2024
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Alex U. Inn, left, and Juanita MORE! led the 2023 People's March. Photo: Gooch
Alex U. Inn, left, and Juanita MORE! led the 2023 People's March. Photo: Gooch

After four years of providing an alternative event to San Francisco's Pride's massive annual parade and celebration, the fifth annual People's March will take place one week earlier on Sunday, June 23, ahead of SF Pride's June 30 event.

The pre-march rally will begin at 11 a.m. at the corner of Polk and Washington streets in the Polk Gulch neighborhood, with the parade following immediately after, marching south on Polk Street to Sutter Street. Once there, celebrants can enjoy a music festival from 12:30 to 4 p.m., followed by an inaugural drag contest with cash prizes from 4 to 7 at Music City, 1353 Bush Street. The lineup for the music festival has not yet been announced.

Founded in 2020 in the wake of national protests following the murder by police of Black Minnesotan George Floyd, the first People's March was, for many, a replacement for the annual San Francisco Pride parade. The in-person event that year had been canceled — replaced with virtual offerings — because of the COVID pandemic.

The People's March also was seen by many as a return to Pride's roots in protest. The march was planned to follow the route of that first "gay-in" in 1970, which later grew to become the San Francisco Pride parade.

Organized by Juanita MORE! and Alex U. Inn as a more activist-focused event than its larger counterpart, the People's March had been a longtime dream, Inn told the Bay Area Reporter that first year. A former board member of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee, Inn had been critical of what they felt was the more assimilationist direction that the parade had taken.

The move this year to the earlier time slot will help participants already facing a packed Pride schedule, said MORE!

"Alex U. Inn and I decided to move the march up a week earlier, considering the busy schedule of Pride Sunday," MORE! wrote in an email. "Last year, I participated in the People's March, JM! Pride Party, and an after-party, which was fantastic but also a demanding day. Moving the march earlier aims to provide a more enjoyable experience for everyone."

MORE!'s annual JM Pride Party is set for June 30, from noon to 7 p.m. at 620 Jones Street. The beneficiary this year is LYRIC, the LGBTQ youth organization that is facing city budget cuts.

Additionally, by moving the event to an earlier slot on the calendar, MORE! said she hopes to draw participation from a larger and more diverse crowd. The decision to move the event was made without any input from SF Pride, MORE! said, nor does the move change the focus of the People's March. A request for comment from SF Pride was not returned.

"Alex and I set out to return the event to its original activism roots," MORE! continued. "We organized our Black, Brown, Indigenous, trans, and queer family, friends, lovers, and neighbors to march down Polk Street in unison along San Francisco's original march route. It was dynamic and reminded the community of our long history and innate power."

While both MORE! and Inn agreed that LGBTQ folks are fortunate to live in San Francisco, the threats against the community are ongoing. MORE! said that pride in one's LGBTQ identity is a survival tactic and, "despite what corporate America wants the world to know, we are still fighting for the right to be ourselves."

With 522 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this year in state legislatures across the country, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, discrimination is still a problem, she said. The legislative assault against LGBTQ rights is why San Francisco supervisors this month declared the city a sanctuary for trans and other gender-nonconforming people.

In a news release Inn noted, "We are so blessed that we live in a community where LGBTQ2SAI people, and especially BIPOC folx, live freely without fear of our rights being taken away," using the acronym that includes two-spirit, asexual, and intersex people.

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