Everything you need to know about SF Pride 2016

By Jun S.  Published Jun 28th, 2016

San Francisco Pride “For Racial and Economic Justice”, the largest LGBTQ celebration in the nation, will take place in the heart of San Francisco’s Civic Center on the last weekend of June, scheduled for Saturday, June 25 from Noon to 6:00PM, and Sunday June 26 from 11:00am to 6:00pm.

Each year, Downtown San Francisco springs to life in vibrant displays of color and festivities celebrating the nation’s sexual diversity and encouraging a supportive environment where people among the LGBTQ community are able to freely express their sexuality and gender identity. Artists, icons, musicians, and thought leaders from throughout the country gather to address justice against ongoing issues of discrimination, racial and gender inequality, and economic struggle.

The celebration will feature one grand stage at City Hall, along with 20 smaller stages throughout the festival on both days, all of which will feature spectacular performances and thought-provoking speakers from various kings and queens of the queer scene. Notable acts will include the Spice Queers, Danny Boy, AB Soto, Shaun Wright, JES, the progressive gender-bending pop artist, Peaches, internationally acclaimed DJ, Hector Fonseca, and best known member of the Pussycat Dolls, Jessica Sutta. Other stage performances will showcase local cultural organizations and performances including Queer Youth, HipHopForChange, Soul of Pride, African Diaspora Stage & Village, the Asian & Pacific Islander Community, and more.

The Parade will take place on Sunday at 10:30am along Market Street, beginning at Beale and ending at 8th Street. Magnificently decorated parade floats, performance groups, and hundreds of contingents from LGBTQ organizations march along parade in colorful ensembles and positive energy as thousands proudly wave colorful flags celebrating their identity and classic Pride anthems deliver music throughout the streets of Downtown San Francisco. A full list of contingents has yet to be officially announced, but we fully expect the return of Dykes on Bikes, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and SF Leather Pride.

Additionally, Pride will be graced by this year’s Celebrity Grand Marshals, including the cast of Transcendent (or what we Bay Area folk know them more as the Ladies of AsiaSF), lesbian woman of color and Top Chef finalist, Chef Melissa King, accomplished actor from hit shows such as “The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire”, ACLU ambassador of Smart Justice, Michael K. Williams, and finally, Randy Harrison, best known for his role as Justin Taylor in Showtime classic, “Queer as Folk”, serves as the emcee in the national tour of “Caberet!” at the Golden Gate Theatre and will be speaking about “issues [such as] the extent to which this country has not yet acknowledged slavery, and the way that reverberates in our culture, both economically and racially…”

Beyond just a massive party, San Francisco Pride is a public space where LGBTQ individuals from across the country can rejoice and celebrate their identity while providing a venue for tackling issues that threaten diversity and the safety of the public from violence and discrimination. Various celebrities and icons offer hope by providing a voice to the community with speeches, performances, as well as visibility. As many LGBTQ individuals are faced with many challenges in the fight for a place in society and their right to live peacefully, many continue to struggle to find resources, support networks, and locations where being openly gay and even holding hands in public is acceptable.

The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration Committee has also announced that tightened security measures will be implemented to ensure the safety of party goers in response to the massacre in Orlando that has devastated members of the LGBTQ community across the country. Flags at City Hall will hang at half-mast until Sunday evening.

For the first time in the festival’s 46-year long history, attendees will be checked for weapons after passing through metal detectors and a second screening by guards equipped with wands to search for contraband (see: full list of all prohibited items). The festival has specified that bags over an 18” x 18” size limit will not be permitted, while advising attendees that bringing bags in general will be highly discouraged as to not slow down the screening process. There will be increased police presence placed in areas predicted to have a high concentration of people in the area.

Event organizers and city officials have acknowledged the encumbrance of extensive security measures, but have decided to prioritize the safety of the public and prevent further acts of terrorism. Unfortunately, LGBTQ people of color who have periodically experienced harassment from law enforcement due to racial inequality have expressed concern in the increase of police presence and are potentially alienated by these new safety measures. Under circumstances where gun violence and discrimination fall under the sobering probability of endangering the public, public safety officials are taking no chances throughout the duration of the event. No known threats have been reported.

As members of the LGBTQ population continue to cope with the devastation behind the tragedy in Orlando, many question as to when the violence and discrimination will come to an end. LGBTQ citizens across the globe are faced with the ongoing struggle for acceptance within society as many are faced with concern for threats against personal safety from being targeted simply for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Amidst these difficult circumstances, many stand proudly in refusal to allow acts of terrorism to discourage their way of life. Members of the community continue to fight to prevent homophobic and transphobic violence from causing further destruction within society, as well as their right to express their personal identities without the threat of unjust retribution.

In memory of the Orlando shooting victims, and in honor of friends, family, allies, and members of the LGBTQ community affected across the world.

Click here for ways you can help Orlando shooting victims and their families.