Living in San Francisco, I had a front row seat to the largest LBGT PRIDE gathering in the nation this past weekend. The celebration kicked off Saturday with one main stage performance right in front of City Hall, on the same steps where Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to public office in California as city supervisor, addressed a crowd of over 200,000 on Gay Freedom day in 1978. Nearly 40 years since that day, the San Francisco PRIDE celebration has grown into arguably one of the biggest and most famous LBGT gathering and celebration on the globe.
Having a prime residential location on Market, a block away from civic Center, I only had to walk outside my apartment to join the celebrations. Saturday served as a precursor to the full Celebration and Parade to take place Sunday, but that by no means meant it was any less of a party. The entire Civic Center Plaza was full of rainbow flags, the most outlandish outfits one could imagine, and thousands upon thousands of supporters. I hung out at the International Stage, hosted by a local radio station, and danced for hours till it was time to move to the officially unofficial “after-party” in the Castro.
I showed up at Pink Saturday, the annual block party the night before the PRIDE Parade, with a slight idea in mind of what was in store. I had been to a couple San Francisco block parties, so I thought I knew what to expect. But the massive crowd walking to the event told me this was going to be bigger than any block party I have ever been to. And that was simply an understatement.
The block party stretched about 10 blocks filled with stages and vendor booths, parties on the rooftops, and people on every balcony or open window. As the sun went down, the streets kept filling up and every stages got louder keeping the party going till past 10 pm. Easily one of the craziest “block party” I’ve ever been to.
Sunday brought the Parade, with floats going from the Ferry Building on the Bay right to Civic Center PLaza where the celebration began. Twenty-three stages scattered throughout the entire Civic Center area, blocking off all the streets in the area. We made an effort to see all the stages but some were tougher to leave than others. Great DJ’s and performances on each stage filled with all genres and styles. Pretty much a music festival right in the heart of the city.
They say some 1.8 million people took part in San Francisco’s Pride celebration, being one of those was a truly incredible experience. Here’s to all that remains in store for me to see, experience, and venture here in the city that welcomes all to #BeTrue. Peace! -JB
Justen Barber is a Houston, TX native. Studied Mass Communication and Spanish at Sam Houston State University. Living in Puerto Rico as a kid solidified Spanish as a part of his life. Former Marketing/PR intern for Pacha NYC. Advent festival goer. San Francisco resident. Music. Travel. Fuego. For more, view Justen’s LinkedIn or follow him at @JustenBarber.