San Francisco Pride is a colossal celebration that has the entire city decked out in glitter. As long as it’s biodegradable, of course.
In its 46th year, SF Pride is expected to draw at least one million people into the city to cheer for 200 different parade contingents on Sunday, June 26. But as any San Franciscan will tell you, you don’t have to wait until Sunday to start waiving those rainbow flags.
We’ve asked a few of San Francisco’s most fascinating locals to share with us what they love most about SF Pride, how they plan to celebrate in 2016, and why they’re proud to live in San Francisco year-round:
2015 SF Pride had over a million people celebrating. The cast of Transcendent was in the parade last year and it was a magical day. If you haven’t experienced SF Pride then you are missing out. It is a great honor to be 2016 Grand Marshals and I know this year will be just as spectacular.
San Francisco has so many resources for trans folks. Whether it be housing, job search and medical assistance, help with name and gender change, the list goes on. Mayor Ed Lee even banned city workers to travel to North Carolina because of their anti trans bathroom laws. I am overjoyed that trans people don’t feel the need to hide in the shadows anymore. We can live life to the fullest and celebrate our struggles and success. The people of San Francisco are a true testament that love and acceptance can overcome anything.
I have had the pleasure of attending many gay pride events in other cities and none of them compare to SF Pride. Here, the whole city celebrates. SF Pride brings visibility to the trans community and it’s not just a recent development. They’ve been supporting the trans community forever.
San Francisco is one of the most open-minded and culturally advanced cities in the US. The landscape is breathtaking but what I love the most is the warm hearts and the open minds of the people that live in it. I couldn’t be luckier.
In San Francisco, there is a pervasive level of social consciousness and a sense of protecting the beautiful place we call home. From composting to fundraising to fabulously creative cultural events, San Franciscans work hard to make the world a better place, spreading a trail of glitter wherever we go (as long as that glitter is biodegradable). Pride is such a powerful celebration because we get to reflect on how far we have come while getting re-energized for the battles ahead. Plus, we DJs get to dust off some of our favorite classics – and I love Pride classics.
Last year my friends arranged a Sunset Cruise featuring one of my favorite DJs/producers, Barry Harris. They’ll be doing it all again this year on the Friday before Pride. To me, it’s the perfect way to kick off the weekend. And of course don’t miss the SF Pride Parade! Find a good place to watch and be prepared to dance. I’ll be spinning on the Uber float, so be sure to give me a wave! If you need a soundtrack to get you in the mood for Pride, check out my free podcast mixes.
Michelle Meow, founder and host of the Michelle Meow Show on KOFY TV, SF Pride board president
I have a unique way of celebrating because I have been involved with SF Pride since I was 23. I co-host the Pride Parade celebration, so I’m up starting at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning. That makes it very difficult to participate in all the fun the night before, but there are a few events everyone must check out.
Frameline, the LGBTQI Film Festival opens up mid-June through the last day of Pride. This year, Looking, the movie, will have its world-premiere at Frameline. On the Friday of Pride weekend, over 11,000 marchers show up for Trans March, the largest Transgender Pride event. On Saturday, the Dyke March, on its 40th anniversary, kicks off at Dolores Park and ends up in the Castro. Finally, on Sunday, the Parade kicks off at 10 a.m. and the celebration continues at Civic Center with music, fun, food, and friends.
David Richardson, co-creator of Swagger Like Us, Double Duchess recording artist
The thing I love most about SF Pride is the amount of nightlife and festivities that are in full swing that aren’t even part of the official Pride schedule. It brings out all the queers, all in one space at once. Even though there has been an absence of some creative culture due to financial inflation recently, San Francisco in general has always been – and I believe will continue to be – a place where anyone can feel comfortable being as queer as they need to be. And not just during Pride weekend.
Well, I’m usually a work horse during SF Pride nowadays. My annual pride event, The House of Babes, is the largest queer party on Saturday night at Public Works and has hosted loads of up and coming acts in the queer hip-hop genre. This year, my regular party Swagger Like Us is throwing an event featuring all-Trans talent at the Elbo Room for Trans Friday.
Krylon Superstar, performer, Double Duchess recording artist
I love that SF Pride is a city-wide event that has its roots deep in the very fabric that make up the magic of this town. It’s grown to an enormous celebration, which could feel overwhelming, but its message of sexual diversity and tolerance is very pronounced.
SF Pride actually begins on Thursday, and I’m not one to shy away from a party. But on the actual Sunday of Pride, I wake up as early as possible to catch some of the parade and then head over to Juanita More’s legendary party. And after a few high kicks and a twirl, I touch up my face and float over to Fearie Freedom Village near Civic Center. I live for the fairies! They are the cosmic arcane glue that holds the entire celebration together. After chanting, casting spells and dancing in bellowing clouds of sage, I pack up my things and head home… I’m old! Three days of going out, and I top out. Hahaha, I just called myself a top. As if.
Pride events are so important because we have a responsibility to visibly celebrate LGBT culture. During SF Pride, the Dyke March is always really awesome to check out. The Trans March is also fantastic, especially the picnic beforehand. Of course, it’s good to check out Castro or Folsom and hit the bars clubs and meet a nice mixture of locals and out-of-towners from around the world. Everyone should check out Brewcade, where you can grab drinks and then play Killer Queen or any of their many arcade cabinets.
It’s really good to live in a city with so much history. Harvey Milk’s legacy is still alive and going strong in the Castro and reaches far beyond that. It’s also a great place full of very open minded, progressive people. You know that if someone started throwing around slurs in a crowd of strangers, it wouldn’t fly.
Last year was my first time participating in SF Pride, mere days after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. Being in San Francisco made it that much more affecting; San Francisco’s history is gay history. I have enormous respect for that, and for the people here who paved the way. Being here during pride is a moving experience for me.
This year, I’ll be marching the parade again with BART. As far as bars are concerned, I’ve had a great time singing at Martuni’s piano bar on Market (Manhattan in hand), and if I’m wandering toward the Castro, I always stop at Lookout.
This shot of my daily commute was immortalized by the amazingly talented @magnushastings His lens captured this and so many other beautiful moments in collaboration with a huge diverse group of 'drag queens' for his book #WhyDrag. I'm honored to be a part of this documentation of a truly beautiful moment in time for the art of drag. The launch is MONDAY 7-10 at the Abbey LA. Il be there alongside so many other talented artists. #ArtInspiresArt #ShadesOfGraceTour
Grace Towers, drag star
San Francisco nurtures a lot of us that didn’t fit in anywhere else. We have carved a safer space for ourselves. We owe a lot of our success with LGBTQI rights to many powerful historical moments that stemmed from San Francisco. So I really enjoy seeing new generations of LGBTQI people acknowledge, appreciate and re-tell the stories of our past. We share a love for life, creating memories and pushing boundaries. And that’s what makes Pride in San Francisco so special.
Wednesday of Pride week, I’ll be curating, hosting and performing at my weekly show dickATnite at Moby Dick Bar in the Castro. This show is going to be of epic proportions with some surprise artists from out of town. Thursday of Pride week, I’ll be hosting Bulge at the Powerhouse, a fun and sexy underwear party. I wanted to create a safe space that nurtures body positivity, so all body types, all ages, all genders are welcome. Saturday night is my big SF Pride event, Chromosome, at 60 6th Street (formerly Club 6). This is going to be beyond!
Baruch Porras-Hernandez, poet, performer and Strut community organizer
Every Pride, I visit my chosen queer family, gay mentors and older queer folks that I am grateful for having in my life. I make a point to say thank you because I would not have the freedoms I have today as a gay man without their hard work. Even today, people like the Frisco Five, make me proud to live here. Those brave people and their support group make me feel like this city still has meaning. Black and Brown Lives Matter.
As far as going out and celebrating during SF Pride, Oasis is a super fun spot to go to check out different shows. Also, the Monster drag show at the Edge. And of course, the San Francisco Queer Open Mic, a free event I host that will feature the amazing Ben McCoy on Friday, June 24 at Modern Times Bookstore in the Mission.