Pride turns 40!
by Seth Hemmelgarn
San Francisco is set to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the LGBT Pride Parade and celebration this weekend, Saturday, June 26 to Sunday, June 27.
This year, as people enjoy main stage talent that includes the Backstreet Boys or watch almost 200 passing parade contingents, the anniversary milestone is likely to call to mind Pride's historical significance.
Paul Boneberg, executive director of the GLBT Historical Society, said Pride's 40th anniversary "shows the importance of the Pride events both in San Francisco and around the world."
"These are events that are not only connected to our history," but also show "a global community in one rotating party around the world. There are very few communities that have an equivalent to what queer people do in celebration of ourselves and our community, and it's extraordinary," said Boneberg.
He added that San Francisco has "always had one of the best parties and celebrations and demonstrations – depending on what the need is – to celebrate pride in our community."
This year's festivities begin Saturday with the festival in Civic Center, from noon to 6 p.m.
The parade kicks off Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at Market and Beale streets, and ends at Market and Eighth streets. The Sunday celebration runs from noon to 7 p.m. in Civic Center.
Besides the Backstreet Boys, main stage performers will include Andy Bell of Erasure and Martha Davis and the Motels, among others.
Grand marshals this year include Lifetime Achievement honoree James C. Hormel. Hormel, the former ambassador to Luxembourg, who was the U.S.'s first openly gay ambassador.
Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple, and retired Navy Commander Zoe Dunning will be among other celebrity grand marshals.
There is no cost to attend the Pride festival, but a minimum donation of $5 at the entrance gate is requested. No one is turned away for lack of funds.
The donations help support the over 80 Bay Area nonprofit organizations through the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee's community partners program.
Donations from the celebration have helped San Francisco Pride give back more than $1.6 million in grants since 1997.
Besides the main stage, numerous other venues will be available for people to check out.
Among them will be the Steamworks Latin stage.
Jamie Awad, who owns Club Papi, a co-presenter of the stage, said this would be the stage's 13th year.
"Fourteen years ago we couldn't even do Spanish music at Pride," said Awad.
He also said, "It means a lot to have the Latin community really feel part of
According to a Granda Entertainment news release Awad sent to the Bay Area Reporter, Granda and Club Papi will be teaming up with Media Concepts PR to present "Acˇptame Como Soy," which translates to "Accept Me as I Am."
Billed as "a song with a message of love, acceptance and support to gay people and their families," the song will be performed live on stage by Alondra and Diego Schoening, the ex-lead singer of the Mexican Latin pop act Timbiriche.
The Latin stage will be located at Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street. The stage runs Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.
For more performers and other information, visit www.clubpapi.com.
Other venues at Pride are expected to include the Asian and Pacific Islander Pride stage and pavilion, the Elder Space, and Leather Alley. The women's NectArena stage celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. [See story, page 1.]
Earlier this month, the Rally 4 Equality to kick off Pride Month included a gathering at Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro. The June 5 rally was meant as a call for full federal equality in employment, the military, marriage, immigration, health care and housing.
Franko Potter, 40, who had a rainbow flag with him, was one of several people standing at the plaza.
He talked to the B.A.R. about the value of "showing my pride, and who I am, and what I do ... and what I believe in."
Potter, who is gay, said he'd try to attend every Pride event this year.
Nearby, Trey Allen, 27, was taking in the sun at 17th Street Plaza.
The openly gay Allen said Pride is a time "where I can celebrate what makes me unique, so we can dress up silly and have tons of fun."
Simone Mims, who will turn 34 on June 27 – Pride Sunday – and identifies as a lesbian, said, "Obviously there's a lot of history around the event and people being who they are and being accepted," and "being able to express who they are."
Mims, who was walking through the Castro, said this would be her first Pride in San Francisco.
For more information, visit http://www.sfpride.org.