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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.
3 1/2-Hour Marathon Parade is Pride of San Diego: ‘Born This Way’ Is Anthem was last modified: July 16th, 2017 by Ken Stone
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