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A History of Pride in San Francisco

September 17, 2015
A History of Pride in San Francisco

San Francisco became a pivotal cornerstone for the LGBT pride movement and a necessary champion for the rights of all. Host to one of the first Pride Parades in 1970, as well as one of the nation’s first LGBT neighborhoods, the city is also home to the creation of the community’s coveted rainbow flag. With a rich history, a variety of iconic moments occurred within San Francisco that depicted the struggles and victories of the LGBT pride movement.

1970 San Francisco Pride Parade San Francisco was one of the major initial proponents of a citywide pride parade to celebrate equality for members of the LGBT community. First held in 1970, one year after the harrowing Stonewall Riots in New York City, the parade marched down Polk Street in conjunction with similar events occurring in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Growing in scope each year, the parade began with 40,000 attendees and currently welcomes nearly 2 million guests to celebrate equality for all.

Golden Gate Park Sit-In
Following the advent of San Francisco’s Pride Festival and Parade in 1970, the march concluded at Golden Gate Park for a legendary sit-in, with 200 participants. Though an example of peaceful protest, the event was unfortunately riddled with arrests while making a powerful statement. Attendees stood their ground for what they believed in and created a successful event to communicate the tenets of equality.

San Francisco Pride Celebration The San Francisco Pride Festival features an array of events leading up to the yearly Pride Parade, and has remained the nation’s largest event of its kind for the LGBT community. Residents and visitors alike can traverse to any of the 20 entertainment venues or 300 vendor stands before the parade route begins.

Castro District
During the 1970s, the Castro became one of the first LGBT neighborhoods within the United States. Today, a rainbow flag flies over Harvey Milk Plaza within this prominent district, reminiscent of those who fought nobly for the rights of their community.

1978 The Rainbow Flag A symbol of iconography for the LGBT community, the rainbow flag was designed by Gilbert Baker in honor of the 1978 Pride Parade in San Francisco. Originally comprised of eight stripes, the flag now bears six and is hoisted up on structures throughout the city to communicate San Francisco’s commitment to equal rights for the LGBT community.

Parade Guests
The San Francisco Pride Parade has welcomed notable guests throughout its reign, including Harvey Milk in 1978. It was on this day that he gave a monumental speech that is depicted within the movie based off of his life’s events, Milk. The route begins each year at City Hall, a spot that pays homage to Milk’s legacy and his advocacy work for the community.

1994 LGBT Inclusion In 1994, the Pride Festival took leaps to include all members of the community and changed its name to include Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender individuals. It was then that each member of the community was able to be recognized during the celebration of their equality.

Marriage Equality
Mere days before the 2015 Pride Parades occurred within numerous cities, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage on June 26, issuing cheers of “love wins” throughout the nation. This decision was uttered nearly 46 years to the date following the Stonewall riots, which began the gay rights movement that was championed over time.