By Sara Bloomberg
San Francisco’s annual Pride celebration kicked off Monday afternoon with a flag raising ceremony at City Hall, where equality and funding for HIV and AIDS services were hot topics.
Mayor Ed Lee promised continued support for local HIV and AIDS services.
If the Board of Supervisors approves Lee’s new budget proposal, $6.7 million will be restored for local HIV and AIDS services that were at risk of federal cuts, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Lee briefly tempered the excitement for his announcement with a reality check.
“Despite what people might say, that we’re pretty lucky (…) we have a lot more to do,” Lee said at Monday’s ceremony. “Every time we make an investment, there’s either the state or the feds that will cut other programs. They can’t figure it out. We have to take care of our own folks.”
Global equality is the theme of this year’s pride celebration, which is said to attract up to a billion dollars this colorful weekend.
“This year’s theme, global equality, is all about getting not just the city in shape — it’s getting the whole world to pay attention to how equality would benefit them,” Lee said.
Marriage equality could soon be ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Proposition 8 on February 7, nearly four years after California voters narrowly approved it. Prop 8 restricted marriage to be between a man and a woman.
A federal version of the California law, known as the Defense of Marriage Act, was enacted by Congress in 1996 and was ruled unconstitutional in May by the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
Appeals of both decisions are expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court but supporters of equal marriage rights are optimistic that the rulings will be upheld.
This optimism is fueled by President Obama’s recent statement in support of gay marriage and echoed through the crowd at Monday’s flag raising.
Ray Hawkins, a member of the San Francisco chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays — more commonly known as PFLAG — was optimistic about the future.
“The wave of public opinion is increasing. It’s very hopeful,” Ray Hawkins said, referring to progress made over the past several years, including presidential support, the reversal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the rulings against Prop 8 and DOMA.
Several community members were honored Monday as Grand Marshals of Pride, including Gilbert Baker, the man who designed the original rainbow flag in 1978 just blocks from City Hall on Grove St.
Dressed in a sharp yellow and white suite, complete with a matching yellow boater-style hat adorned with a rainbow ribbon, Baker reminded the crowd about progressive happenings in the 1970s — from Harvey Milk’s election and work as an openly gay supervisor to Jimmy Carter’s work on human rights — and cautioned not to take anything for granted.
“We all laughed saying, oh Reagan, he’ll never be president. It happened. Our work is not done and it’s going to be harder than ever,” Gilbert said, and continued that the struggle for equality and progress is “like a rainbow: can’t see the beginning, can’t see the end. We are all the colors.”
Those colors now fly high in front of City Hall, raised by both Mayor Lee and Gilbert.
Monday’s celebration began with a contingent of notables on the balcony overlooking a modest crowd assembled in front of the steps below, just outside City Hall.
The San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Freedom Band performed several overtures, including “San Francisco” originally performed by Scott McKenzie in 1967, as the crowd patiently awaited the flag raising.
One man, Larry J. Edmond — a.k.a. “Edmond Juicye” (yes, the “e” is on the end) — sported a rainbow wig and shook his orange and golden pom poms as he transformed the space in between the crowd and the band into a dance floor. No one joined him but he beamed with pride nonetheless.
“I see myself as a Same Gender Loving man,” Edmond said. He lauded the recent achievements of the LGBT community and acknowledged that more needs to be done for equality. “We can do better.”
After the flag raising, everyone filtered inside City Hall to the second floor balcony overlooking the grand staircase and a statue of Harvey Milk, where the event continued with speeches and awards, followed snacks, champagne and mingling.
Dressed to the nines and wearing their crowns, Empress Sissy St. Clair and Emperor Bradley Roberts represented the Imperial Council of San Francisco, a non-profit dedicated to raising funds for other non-profits, according to its website.
In addition to their normal fund raising duties, their royal highnesses just completed the AIDS Lifecycle bicycle tour and were the first royalty to do so, they said.
Official event info for Pride can be found at www.sfpride.org. The parade will start at 10:30 a.m. on June 24 from the intersection of Market and Beale streets.
Here are some more cheap or free pride week events in San Francisco:
Faetopia is a pop-up queer arts, ecology, theater and community center. For the week before San Francisco Pride, over 50 artists and collaborators will create a visionary space for the gay community in the long vacant Tower Records, next to Cafe Flore at Market St & Noe St (2286 Market St, to be exact). During the day, Faetopia will host workshops, meditations, teach-ins and heart circles. At night, the arts reign supreme with theater, burlesque, queer cinema, sexy book releases and, of course, plenty of drag.
Tuesday, June 19
Queers for Gears presents: Ride for Pride! 7 p.m. meet at the Castro Plaza, Free.
Queers for Gears is a group for queer bikers and their pedaling comrades! We ride monthly, mostly in the late evening but have been known to host the occasional daytime ride, long ride outside the city, and overnight ride.
Wednesday, June 20
5th Annual Bisexual Pride, Free
5 p.m. – 7 p.m.at Dolores park: Bi-BQ and potluck
7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Dolores Park Cafe: Entertainment and warm beverages
9:30 p.m. Bi Promenade to the Victoria Theatre for Frameline’s Bi-Candy
Thursday, June 21
Pride Nightlife at the California Academy of Sciences, 6 p.m., $12.
Lecture by Carol Queen & Robert Lawrence (Center for Sex and Culture), “Stargayzing,” in the planetarium, and performance & “transpecies” costume contest hosted by Heklina (Trannyshack). Entertainment by Juanita More, Stay Gold & Hard French.
Friday, June 22
Trans March, 3:30 p.m., Free, Dolores Park (Dolores and 18th streets). The Trans March is SF’s largest transgender Pride event and one of the largest trans events anywhere. It’s always the Friday of Pride weekend and this year’s theme is Trans Generations: Define Your Moment.
Saturday, June 23
PINK TRIANGLE Installation and Commemoration Ceremony, 7:30 a.m. Installation, 10:30 a.m. Ceremony, Free, Twin Peaks Vista Overlook. Help remind people of the hatred of the past to help prevent it from happening again. This one-acre display is a mute yet highly visible reminder of humankind’s inhumanity to others.
San Francisco Dyke March, 6 p.m., Free. Please join the San Francisco Dyke March for her 20th year! We will have DJs in Dolores Park during the day, speakers at 5, and the March will kick off at 6PM.
Pink Pleasure Party, 8 p.m., Free, Good Vibrations Valencia Street Store. Good Vibrations is proud to be your prime destination before, during, and after the Dyke March. Step into the Pink Pleasure Party at Good Vibrations and get in gear for a proud and sexy weekend!
Sunday, June 24
Occupride, 10 a.m. Meet at Mission and Main, 2:30 p.m. Rally at site of Compton’s Cafeteria, 101 Taylor St. (@Turk). Free. This is not an attack on the Pride parade or its organizers, nor is it an attempt to disrespect any ongoing work of members of our community. It is an attack on the corporatization and commercialization of the parade and our communities!
SF Pride Parade, 10:30 a.m., Free, Market and Beale streets
MASSIVE! Home of the Big, the Bear and the Proud is back with a celebration of equality for people of all shapes and sizes! Playing the hottest beats around, this is the after party to hit! 6:00 p.m., $5, The Stud, 399 9th St, San Francisco, 94103
Club Papi SF Latin Stage After Party, 8 p.m. – 3 a.m., Free before 10 p.m., $10 after 10 p.m., The Factory Nightclub, 525 Harrison St, San Francisco, 94105