It was a colorful and lively Sunday morning on Market Street, as thousands gathered to celebrate San Francisco’s first Pride Parade and Celebration since 2019.
And yet there was an undertone of urgency, as participants weighed the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and whether court rulings that established gay rights and contraception rights may fall next.
The result was a merging of symbols and signs along the parade route: the rainbow flag and the wire coat hanger.
“An attack on reproductive rights is also an attack on the LGBTQ+ community,” said Brandon Richards, director of communications for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, who identifies as bisexual and marched in Sunday’s parade. “We know, based on the opinion, that LGBTQ+ rights are next. And we know that we are stronger together.”
But Richards added that participating today was a positive way to process the challenging events of the week.
“It feels really, really good to be here.”
The celebration has an undertone of urgency as demonstrators weigh whether court rulings that established gay rights and contraception rights may fall next.— The San Francisco Standard (@sfstandard) June 26, 2022
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently said those rulings “were demonstrably erroneous decisions.” pic.twitter.com/rTAxveRkDq
That sentiment was also echoed by Marloe Mullins, who identifies as queer and marched alongside District 8 supervisor Rafael Mandelman in the parade.
“Being out, being open and being proud is so important. It’s my seventh year walking and every year it just gets better and better,” said Mullins, who held a sign that read “We will not go back to the 1950s quietly; we will not go back without a fight.”
“The basis and the history of Pride was fight. It didn’t start as a party, it started as a movement. And it continues to be a movement today,” added Mullins.
Jordan Anderson came to the parade with a handmade sign reading: “If I die from an unsafe abortion just drop my body on the steps of the Supreme Court.” Anderson’s sign was inspired by a protester photographed during the AIDS epidemic wearing a leather jacket that read “If I die of AIDS — forget burial — just drop my body on the steps of the F.D.A.” The original quote was stenciled over a pink triangle. Anderson wrote her sign over a wire hanger.
Still, heavy thoughts didn’t overpower the exuberance of the celebration completely. Many participants told The Standard they were thrilled to be celebrating Pride together, in-person, after such a long period of isolation and lockdown.
The parade began, as per tradition, with the Dykes on Bikes, who flooded Market Street with the sound of their Harley Davidsons. Many of the riders were outfitted in motorcycle jackets, roaring down the street with cigars in their mouths, throwing rock-and-roll signs in the air and waving the occasional bubble machine.
Chi Energy, the twirler for the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, was jubilant to be leading the musicians in a brassy rendition of Judy Garland’s “San Francisco.” In the last year, Chi Energy underwent open heart surgery and rotator cuff surgery and it was his goal throughout the year to get in shape to march in the parade.
When asked how it felt to be at Pride after making a full recovery, Chi Energy answered in a single word: “jazzed.”
Not only people but their pets were out on Market Street to show their pride. A delegation of corgis trotted alongside their owners, unfazed by the waves of adoring fans. A large rabbit zoomed around the marchers in a toy jeep controlled by its owner.
Meanwhile, the third annual People’s March & Rally assembled at the corner of Polk and Washington streets on Sunday to follow the original path of San Francisco’s first Pride celebration and bring attention to a spectrum of civic and civil liberties issues, including transgender and racial injustice, gun violence, police killings and healthcare inequalities.
Co-founded by local drag artists and activists Alex U. Inn and Juanita MORE! as a non-corporate-sponsored Pride event to bring more visibility to Black, Brown, trans, Native and Indigenous voices within the LGBTQ+ community, the first People’s March was held in 2020 in response to pandemic-induced cancellations of Pride celebrations and the brutal police killing of George Floyd.
This year’s march not only continued its tradition of centering queer voices of color but also spotlighted reproductive rights as a key issue.
“All those people that think that they can hold our uterus, that think that they can hold our queerness, that think that they can take away the rights of LGBTQIA2S+ people...that is not okay, is it?” shouted Inn to the small, but vocal crowd of demonstrators.
“This is a march that is about resistance and fighting for rights for all of us,” said Kristina Lee, a longtime Outer Sunset resident and organizer for The National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice. “My organization sees all of these things as connected, and so this felt like the place to be, to be around people that understand that.”
Ultimately, Inn hopes that the People’s March is not only a reminder of Pride’s roots as a “protest” born out of LGBTQ+ uprisings such as Stonewall and San Francisco’s own Compton’s Cafeteria riot, but also a platform “for everybody to speak their truth and to hear our voices ring.”
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