A pandemic, huge revenue losses and a major leadership change have all occurred since the last time San Francisco’s Pride Parade took over the city’s streets. So it’s no small wonder this year’s grand return is themed: ”Love Will Keep Us Together.”
Suzanne Ford, SF Pride’s new interim executive director, said she’s ready to help to revive the organization’s crown jewel event—scheduled for June 25-26—and fill what has been a clear gap in San Francisco’s cultural calendar the past two years. The two years of canceled parades meant millions in lost economic opportunities for both the city and the organization.
“We’re looking to give the community what they deserve to be together in a safe way on Pride weekend,” Ford said. “We also want to give the city what it deserves, the business owners, the hotel owners. Everyone is a part of San Francisco Pride.”
Fred Lopez, who’s led the organization since January 2020, announced he was stepping down to take a position in the Director’s Office at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Replacing him is Ford, a longtime SF Pride board member.
Ford, SF Pride’s former treasurer, has spent much of the last two years dealing with the fiscal ramifications of the pandemic. She helped cut costs and streamline operations, and she said the organization still has a financial reserve in place.
Corporate sponsorships, which Lopez said typically makes up nearly 50% of SF Pride’s revenue, has been slower to come back—an issue he attributed to Omicron—so community support through the organization’s membership program has become more important than ever.
“We’re looking for new partnerships. We’re looking at new, new ways to raise revenue,” Ford said. “We’re looking for support all over the community because it’s an opportunity for people to step forward and say San Francisco Pride is really important.”
According to the organization’s last public filing with the IRS, which included the year ending September 2019, SF Pride had $1.7 million in total assets and $4 million in total revenue.
SF Pride typically draws some 550,000 visitors annually with a total of $357.1 million in estimated economic impact from visitors, according to a report from the Office of the Controller.
Mayor London Breed has made reactivating downtown a key cog in San Francisco’s economic recovery plan, and SF Pride leaders say they’re hoping for more city support this summer.
“We’ve mentioned to them that we could use as much support as they could possibly give us, particularly this year,” Lopez said. “We know that there is anticipation and that the folks who are coming to our city are going to help support this recovery.”
During 2019’s parade, demonstrators blocked the parade route and were violently removed by police. The controversy led organizers to ban uniformed police officers from participating in the eventually canceled 2021 Pride Parade. Lopez said a determination has not been made on having uniformed officers at this year’s event.
Since the pandemic began in March 2020, the organization has pivoted to hosting smaller events as Covid led to canceled parade plans. Many of these programs are being continued or expanded, including a Black Liberation Event with the African American Art & Culture Complex, the organization’s Ken Jones Awards, and a golf tournament at TPC Harding Park in conjunction with the PGA Tour.
Correction: This story has been updated to note Suzanne Ford is SF Pride’s new interim executive director.
Kevin Truong can be reached at [email protected]