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‘No pride in genocide’: Pro-Palestine activists protest SF Pride

A crowd of people is gathered in a street holding Palestinian and rainbow flags. Some carry signs and wear masks, while tall trees provide shade from the sun.
Several hundred activists marched in solidarity with Palestine and in protest of what they called the corporatization of SF Pride. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

Upward of 1,000 LGBTQ+ activists and allies boycotted the official San Francisco Pride parade on Sunday, instead holding their own “No Pride in Genocide” march in solidarity with Palestinians.

The alternative event—organized by groups including Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT) and Jewish Voice for Peace—took place near the Castro District and drew hundreds of people. Participants criticized the main SF Pride celebration for its corporate sponsorships and silence on the Israel-Gaza conflict.

A large group of people, some holding Palestinian flags, gathers and sits on a street, with signs and banners advocating various causes. Trees and buildings are in the background.
A counter-march protesting SF Pride on Sunday, June 30, 2024, drew a sizable crowd of people voicing solidarity with Palestine and calling for an end to the Israel-Hamas war. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

“We are boycotting SF Pride because a lot of the organizations and politicians involved are not supportive of Palestinians,” QUIT activist Jon Ramirez Monaco told The Standard. He cited concerns about companies like Amazon and Google providing technology to the Israeli military.

Activists also objected to the presence of pro-Israel groups and politicians they view as unsupportive of Palestinian rights in the main parade.

Mama Ganuush, a Palestinian African activist and drag performer, accused SF Pride of allowing “pink-washing”—that is, using LGBTQ+ rights to distract from human rights abuses. They criticized the event’s acceptance of corporate sponsors and police participation.

“Pride doesn’t mean anything unless all of us are free and equal in the world,” Ramirez Monaco added.

Sophia Sobko of Jewish Voice for Peace said the alternative march aimed to “root into that spirit of rebellion” from early gay liberation events like the Stonewall uprising. Protesters chanted slogans like “no pride in genocide” and “there can be no queer liberation without Palestinian liberation.”

The counter-march drew hundreds of people to the heart of the city near where the official SF Pride parade was taking place. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

Organizers said they sought to refocus SF Pride on its protest roots while highlighting issues affecting LGBTQ+ Palestinians and other marginalized groups.

Ganuush, who said they have turned down multiple bookings during this year’s SF Pride season, said they were standing on their principles.

“I’m anti-racist,” Ganuush said. “Unfortunately, a lot of events that happen to discriminate against Black people are the same events that are celebrating Israel and not providing any form of safe space for Black or trans community members and Palestinians. That’s why I boycott them. As somebody who’s Palestinian-African, as somebody whose communities are mainly people of color and indigenous folks, I don’t feel comfortable being there.”

The image shows a protest with people holding Palestinian flags and wearing masks. There are signs with messages like "Free Palestine." Urban buildings and hills are in the background.
Shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday, at least 1,000 protesters with the "No Pride in Genocide" march for Palestinian liberation began heading east along 14th Street. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

Ganuush also pointed to recent passage of anti-trans legislation and the Supreme Court’s ruling on Grants Pass affecting cities’ ability to respond to homelessness.

“I’m seeing my community, this is my true SF Pride, I see a collective of community of Black and brown bodies, Jewish bodies, queer bodies, trans bodies and allies standing up for for Palestine and and raising their voices to support Palestinian Liberation, the liberation of the Congo, the liberation of Haiti, and the liberation of indigenous and Black communities in the U.S and in San Francisco.”

The alternative march was more than just a protest, Ganuush said: It’s also a celebration.

Organizers blocked off side streets to traffic while San Francisco police officers followed the procession on foot and by motorcycle at least a block ahead of the SF Pride parade front. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

“I’m very proud of my community,” they told The Standard. “I’m seeing a great celebration of our democracy. Hopefully, we still have the right to protest because there’s a lot of censorship in terms of speech that we do that is not a new thing. But this is just our way to celebrate that with our community.”

Sobko, of Jewish Voice for Peace’s Bay Area chapter, said the march aimed to show solidarity with Palestinians.

“We’re trying to put an end to this genocide,” she said, “and saying that there is no liberation for any of us without Palestinian liberation.”

A ceremonial lion dance in the middle of 14th Street entertains protesters at the "No Pride in Genocide" queer and trans march for Palestinian liberation. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

Calling SF Pride a corporatized gathering, Sobko said she sought to use the legacy of Pride as a protest, including the Stonewall Rebellion, and the Compton’s Cafeteria Rebellion.

“We are refusing to have our queerness and our Jewishness weaponized to justify the ongoing violence against Palestinians,” she continued. “We are resisting the practice of pink-washing, an appeal to LGBTQ rights to justify other human rights abuses or draw attention away from human rights abuses.”

When asked if she participated in other events, Sobko said she would always come out in some way usually to Trans March or Dyke March.

Protesters turn off Castro Street onto 17th Street as part of the "no pride and genocide" queer and trans march for Palestinian liberation. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

“But I haven’t specifically come out to the corporatized version of SF Pride because of the calls to resist state violence,” she explained. “There’s always a heavy police presence. There are a lot of groups who have called for alternative events that don’t normalize or uphold corporations.”

Chants from the marchers as wended their way through the Castro echoed those themes.

“SFPD, KKK, IOF—they’re all the same,” the protesters chanted, using an initialism that stands for the “Israeli Offense Force,” a pejorative for the Israeli Defense Force.

As the marchers walked passed brunchers and SF Pride revelers, they changed their tune, chanting, “While you’re shopping, bombs are dropping.”

Protesters clap and cheer as a dabke troupe performs at 17th and Market streets, where the counter-march concluded on Sunday evening. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

When asked about the city’s law enforcement response to the march, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department said officers were “facilitating and monitoring First Amendment activity” and advising the public to avoid the area or expect delays.