Nearly 280 LGBTQ organizations, schools, churches, businesses, government agencies and elected officials dressed in every color of the rainbow as they marched in one of the largest Pride celebrations in the country.
This year’s event under mostly sunny skies drew an estimated 200,000 as it wound along University Avenue, Sixth Avenue and Balboa Drive in Hillcrest.
The parade was the main attraction of the weekend’s festivities, though the celebration isn’t over yet. The two-day Pride Music Festival got under way Saturday with performers taking over three stages until 8 p.m. Sunday.
The festivities began at 5 p.m. Friday with the official Pride Block Party and the Spirit of Stonewall Rally. The rally honored the 1969 Stonewall riots that are largely credited with sparking the modern gay-rights movement, when patrons of New York City’s Stonewall Inn rioted in the face of police harassment.
Pride celebrations continued Saturday morning with the Pride 5K as crowds began lining University Avenue in Hillcrest in anticipation of the parade.
The parade included an event-record 279 contingents, according to San Diego Pride spokeswoman Chloe Janda. As a result, it took 3 1/2 hours for the final unit — scantily clad men and women on theHale Media Inc. float — to begin its trek west on University.
By tradition, an ear-splitting women’s motorcycle contingent kicked it off. Later came a youth marching band made up of high school band members and, for the seventh straight year, a military contingent divided by service — Navy, Army, Coast Guard, etc.
In 2011, San Diego Pride became the first pride parade in the nation to feature a contingent specifically for service members and veterans.
Public officials riding or walking included Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Democratic Congress members Susan Davis, Scott Peters and Juan Vargas, state Sen. Toni Atkins, Assemblymen Todd Gloria and Brian Maienschein, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, appointed District Attorney Summer Stephan and San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott.
Helping to lead this year’s parade were Delores A. Jacobs, the longest-serving chief executive officer of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, who was honored at Friday’s Spirit of Stonewall Rally with the Champion of Pride award; Susan Jester, a longtime LGBTQ activist who was named a Community Grand Marshal at Friday’s rally; and Russell Roybal, the deputy executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, who also was named a Community Grand Marshal.
The theme of this year’s parade was “Allied in Action: United for Justice.”
But not everyone felt as if San Diego Pride was truly allied or united. The Rev. Shane Harris, the chapter director of the National Action Network San Diego, boycotted the parade “due to a lack of African-American LGBTQ issues” being addressed by San Diego Pride, he announced Saturday morning.
“I also am not happy with the leadership of pride this year due to the loss of former executive director Stephen Whitburn, who was committed to true intersection and leadership for all people,” Harris said.
Harris announced he would lead a “No Justice, No Pride” protest at Sixth Avenue and Upas Street along the parade route. A Facebook page for the protest said the group would be demonstrating against “corporate sponsorship to not only pride, but such disastrous, murderous projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline. We resist police presence in our community and fight against the erasure of black and brown lives, and we honor the lives of our sisters who have been murdered in acts of hatred to the trans community.”
Janda, the Pride spokeswoman, said everything went smoothly with the parade and the protesters weren’t aggressive. Earlier in the day, she pointed to the fact that several predominantly African-American groups were taking part, including the San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition and the San Diego Black Panthers.
“We support everything they stand for,” Janda said. “The theme this year is `Allied in Action: United for Justice.’ We work for all causes and against racism and all social injustices.”
A small group of men with anti-gay signs — seven at one point — injected the lone sour note into the otherwise care-free scene. But police kept them cordoned off north of University Avenue at Ninth Avenue, where their cat-calling had limited reach.
San Diego Pride picked this year’s theme specifically because of the “tough political climate” and wanting to address “more than just issues of the LGBTQ community,” Janda said.
Addressing the departure of Whitburn, dismissed by the organization’s board last year, Janda said San Diego Pride is in good hands under the leadership of its new executive director, Eric Heinritz.
The parade route was kept closed for another hour, police said, to allow for street cleaning and sweeping — removing thousands of commercial and public-official giveaways, such as paper fans and blow-up bang-together noisemakers.
— City News Service contributed to this report.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer greets the crowd near the start of the San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
Rep. Susan Davis waves to the University Avenue crowds at the San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
Glamda and the Hot Cheetos display their Donald Trump-branded clothing. Photo by Chris Stone
Marchers from Palm Springs carry a rainbow flag down University Avenue. Photo by Chris Stone
The Peace Resource Center of San Diego marched toward the end of the parade. Photo by Chris Stone
Parade participants and spectators make connections. Photo by Chris Stone
A scantily clad man dressed as the Greek god Pan gets a reaction from female spectators. Photo by Chris Stone
Members of the San Diego Boys of Leather group march in the parade. Photo by Chris Stone
A member of the Booz Allen Hamilton company marches behind the banner. Photo by Chris Stone
A member of Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence walks in the parade. Photo by Chris Stone
A young girl with Congregation Beth Israel celebrates equality. Photo by Chris Stone
A young women in the San Diego State University contingent carries a California flag. Photo by Chris Stone
Members of the Mary Magdalene Apostle Catholic Community carry signs along the parade route. Photo by Chris Stone
A member of the Hoover High School football team shows off his wings. Photo by Chris Stone
A children with his mother marches with the ACLU. Photo by Chris Stone
A young man carries a marijuana striped pride flag. Photo by Chris Stone
A spectator takes photos of the parade. Photo by Chris Stone
In an homage to Carmen Miranda, a woman wears a basket of fruit. Photo by Chris Stone
Members of the San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition display signs in the annual Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
A member of Pilgrim Church shows support for his son. Photo by Chris Stone
Members of Pilgrim United Church of Christ show support for the gay community. Photo by Chris Stone
A woman with the Del Mar Fairgrounds float represents nature. Photo by Chris Stone
A character from the Del Mar Fairgrounds float smiles at spectators. Photo by Chris Stone
A pug in the Pug Rescue unit has an easy ride down University Avenue. Photo by Chris Stone
In his first San Diego Pride Parade since joining the state Assembly, former Hillcrest-area Councilman Todd Gloria waves to the crowd. Photo by Chris Stone
New San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan waves in the Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman gets a high-five from a man in the crowd. Photo by Chris Stone
Spectator dressed for the occasion along University Avenue. Photo by Chris Stone
A California Highway Patrol officer high-fives spectators. Photo by Chris Stone
An officer from the Chula Vista Police Department hands out stickers. Photo by Chris Stone
A member of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department shows her support with a pride flag. Photo by Chris Stone
A member of the Different Strokes Swim Team carries their banner. Photo by Chris Stone
State Sen. Toni Atkins (left) and her spouse, Jennifer LeSar, march in the 2017 San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
Pride Community Grand Marshal Russ Roybal documents his experience. Photo by Chris Stone
“Her Most Imperial Majesty Empress” Angel Fairfax and “His Most Imperial Majesty Emperor” Jay Heimbach wave to the crowd. Photo by Chris Stone
Happy spectators cheer as parade entrants pass on University Avenue. Photo by Chris Stone
Happy spectators cheer as parade entrants pass on University Avenue. Photo by Chris Stone
Rep. Susan Davis greets spectators along the parade route. Photo by Chris Stone
Rep. Juan Vargas marches in the 2017 San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
State Sen. Toni Atkins (right) and her spouse, Jennifer LeSar, march in the 2017 San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
A parent holds a sign in support of her child. Photo by Chris Stone
Women on Bikes start the 2017 Pride Parade with a roar of motorcycles. Photo by Chris Stone
Guys on Bikes lead the 2017 Pride Parade with colored powder. Photo by Chris Stone
Guys on Bikes fill the air with rainbow powder at the start of the parade. Photo by Chris Stone
Interfaith Leaders for LGBTQ Justice march in the parade. Photo by Chris Stone
A military Color Guard process down the parade route. Photo by Chris Stone
Gay members of the Marines march in the 2017 San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
A member of the U.S. Navy raises a pride flag in the parade. Photo by Chris Stone
A man who served in the U.S. Air Force marches with the military contingent. Photo by Chris Stone
Two girls get ready for the start of the 2017 San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
A dancer with the Metropolitan Community Church entertains the crowd. Photo by Chris Stone
A member of the Metropolitan Community Church dances with flags. Photo by Chris Stone
Hale Media Inc., publisher of San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, was the last of 270-plus parade units. Photo by Ken Stone
Veteran protesters of other San Diego events, including Comic-Con, appeared on a side street off University Avenue. Photo by Ken Stone