Many expected that this year's Pride would get back to its protest roots, with all the official — and overly corporate-sponsored — parades and parties canceled. And that is now happening in the form of a rally and march that will take the old SF Gay Freedom Day route beginning up on Polk Street.
Drag queen Juanita More, who has been lending her activist voice to LGBTQ people of color for many years, is co-organizing the event on Sunday, June 28 with Alex U. Inn. The Facebook invite for the event reads, "We stand in protest of racial injustice, police violence, unjust healthcare, and inadequate unemployment relief. We demand changes! We will show up in droves to denounce and condemn police violence against our communities and raise awareness for the need to abolish and defund police departments, which will allow for funds to be reallocated to social services, mental healthcare providers, and social justice organizations."
Everyone is told to wear masks and remain distanced at the march.
As More tells SFist, "I'm fed up with the killing and the treatment — the racism, the police brutality, the scapegoating — of all black Americans."
The march is set to begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday at Polk and Washington and proceed down Polk toward Civic Center, where the rally will be held.
A separate rally is planned in Dolores Park called "Pride Is a Riot," organized in part by the Burning Man camp Comfort & Joy. People are being told to gather at 19th and Dolores at noon on Sunday, and to wear masks.
As you may or may not know, the first LGBTQ Pride celebrations in major cities like San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles weren't called "Pride," and they were held to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, starting in June of 1970. San Francisco's first one was a small "Gay Liberation March" down Polk Street that was fallowed by a hippie-flavored "gay-in" in Golden Gate Park. But starting in 1972 the march down Polk Street became an annual affair, echoing other marches in New York and elsewhere, and evolving into the Pride celebrations we know today because they were centered on visibility, and on LGBTQ people showing pride in who they are.
The rainbow flag, designed by SF's own Gilbert Baker, didn't come along until 1978, when it was still called Gay Freedom Day. San Francisco would continue to call the parade the "International Lesbian & Gay Freedom Day Parade" until 1994, and only in 1995 did it become the "San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Celebration."
As some have noted on social media in recent weeks, this year's Pride is likely going to be more authentic than Prides have been for decades, thanks to the pandemic cancelling the official celebrations and the BLM movement igniting people's sense of injustice across the nation.