Best Of The Gays
compiled by Cynthia Laird
Best LGBT Event, Best Community Fundraiser
San Francisco Pride
For the second consecutive year, the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee has won readers' hearts for the best LGBT event. This year's parade and festival, scheduled for June 28-29, promises to be better than ever, thanks to a new governing board and a new executive director, George Ridgely, who was hired in January.
The Pride parade itself is one of the largest in the world, drawing about 200 contingents.
Thanks to gate donations, Pride is also able to return tens of thousands of dollars to local nonprofits through its community partner program.
"People recognize the unique role SF Pride plays locally and on the world stage," Pride board President Gary Virginia said in an email. "The event showcases our diverse community with 22 community stages and venues, while advancing LGBT causes here and abroad."
This year's theme is "Color Our World with Pride." Whether you're marching in a contingent or viewing the parade from the sidelines, the last Sunday in June is not to be missed.
"We know how to throw a party," Virginia said, "but never lose sight of our mission."
San Francisco Pride, www.sfpride.org.
Folsom Street Fair (event, fundraiser)
Castro Street Fair (event)
Best Fair or Festival (SF)
Folsom Street Fair
The Folsom Street Fair has been rocking San Francisco's South of Market district for 30 years. It's a leather community mainstay that has also attracted fetish enthusiasts of all types.
Demetri Moshoyannis, executive director of Folsom Street Events, which produces the fair, said in an email that he was thrilled with the honor.
"Folsom Street Fair is exciting, entertaining, energizing, educational, and extremely expressive, and, most of all, sexy," Moshoyannis said. "It embodies the best traits of San Francisco itself. On top of that, the fair is inextricably tied to the city's values of philanthropy and social justice. We welcome the world over with arms – and legs – wide open."
This street fair attracts people from around the world; gate donations return hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to nonprofit organizations. Usually held at the end of September, this year's Folsom Street Fair will take place a week early, September 21. The smaller Up Your Alley Fair, which is a warm-up to the main event, will be held July 27.
Folsom Street Fair, www.folsomstreetfair.org.
Castro Street Fair
Best Fair or Festival (East Bay)
Oakland Pride organizers are preparing for the fifth annual street festival this Labor Day weekend. The Pride festival was rebranded five years ago and now takes place in Oakland's Uptown neighborhood. Crowds have generally increased as more people learn about the event, which is more family-oriented and kid-friendly than the huge San Francisco Pride party. But don't worry, there's plenty of eye-candy in the East Bay, too.
Oakland Pride, http://www.oaklandpride.org.
Best LGBT Blog/Website
The Bay Area Reporter's website, ebar.com, may not be as flashy as other news sites, but its easy-to-navigate format has won praise from readers. Blogs are a little hard to find, but a revamp of the site is expected soon. The paper maintains an active Facebook page that shares our award-winning original content and is part of our multi-platform for readers. People can also sign up for the free weekly email newsletter. America's oldest, best-read LGBT newspaper offers the latest news and information, arts and culture, and nightlife free, every week.
Bay Area Reporter, 225 Bush Street, Suite 1700, San Francisco (415) 861-5019, www.ebar.com.
Best LGBT Sports League
The San Francisco Fog Rugby Football Club is committed to an ethic of inclusion. The vision of the club is to be the preeminent rugby club in the world that actively pursues the participation of people of color, gay men, women, and other groups traditionally under-represented in rugby.
The Fog has a strong coaching philosophy. We believe in developing each player to his or her potential as a rugby player.
Locally, the Fog is perhaps best known for a player who died trying to help others on 9/11. Mark Bingham was one of the passengers aboard United Flight 93 that crashed into a Pennsylvania field. He was 31 years old.
Over 100 members strong, Fog Rugby always welcomes new players.
San Francisco Fog Rugby, http://www.sffog.org.
Gay Softball League
SF Tsunami Swim Club