This weekend was the 43rd annual San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade, one of the largest LGBT gatherings in the nation.
On Sunday, Dave and I attended the parade, where more than 230 colorful contingents marched down the main drag of downtown San Francisco.
When I say a contingent, I mean a group of people moving down the road together, sometimes with floats, cars, motorcycles, shopping carts, speakers, flags, balloons, etc. Some of the groups had hundreds of people, all casually strolling along together in support of LGBT rights.
This year’s PRIDE theme was “Embrace, Encourage, Empower.” The word empowered rang true, as only two days earlier, Proposition 8 was overturned in the State of California at the same time as DOMA was overturned federally. That meant that California same-sex couples and their supporters were all feeling better than ever, now that they were living in a state with marriage equality for all.
The parade started at 10:30 a.m., and Dave and I were situated in a prime viewing spot 30 minutes before step-off.
It officially began with the women of Dykes on Bikes, riding motorcycles and revving their engines. This feisty group honked their horns the entire way, and they were wearing anything from wedding dresses, to leather chaps, to nothing but pasties on top.
The parade also featured cheerleaders, marching bands, companies, nonprofits, church groups, dancers and activists, all exclaiming “Happy Pride,” which was the standard greeting of the day. Some of my favorite contingents were the ones with the political figures that I read so much about in the newspaper. Two notables included Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. When Mayor Ed Lee came marching down Market Street it was hard to pick him out from his group, because he is rather short. In fact, he didn’t even have a sign in front of him to introduce his group, so if I hadn’t seen the bodyguards, I might have missed him.
For two-and-a-half hours, we watched contingent after contingent of energetic and enthusiastic people marching for a cause. Unfortunately, hunger and thirst made us leave our post early, but the parade continued for almost two more hours after we stopped watching.
It was expected that more than 1.5 million people would be on the streets to enjoy the parade … I’m guessing the estimation was right. Honestly, we didn’t see very much nudity or craziness. I thought the entire experience would be a bit more X-rated, but it was an R at best for the period that we were out and watching.
What was the highlight, you ask?
That would be our favorite celebrity sighting in the parade: Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. He was wearing the same purple Facebook t-shirt as hundreds of his fellow Facebook employees, and he was riding on a San Francisco Streetcar down the main parade path dancing and cheering. Dave and I were both so amazed to see him, that neither of us pulled our phones out to take a picture. I wish we had. Sure would’ve loved to tag Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook in a post.