Fifty years ago, police raiding a New York City gay bar sparked a riot and ignited a movement.
Saturday in San Diego, armed officers, including some on rooftops, guarded thousands of spectators along a 1.5-mile parade route celebrating “Stonewall 50: Legacy of Liberation.”
More than 200 units marched on University and Sixth avenues in Hillcrest in honor of the gay rights riots a half-century ago at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.
Parade units included community groups, universities, businesses, health centers and religious groups.
Politicians attending included San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer; City Council members Georgette Gomez, Monica Montgomery and Chris Ward; California Senate President Toni Atkins; Assemblyman Todd Gloria; Congress members Juan Vargas, Mike Levin and Susan Davis; Supervisor Nathan Fletcher; and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.
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A girl creates bubbles for the spectators at the 2019 San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer accompanies the Mayor of Hillcrest down the parade route in the 2019 San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
Navy service members show support for military LGBT troops. Photo by Chris Stone
Marines show their support of their LGBT service members. Service members received enthusiastic cheering from the crowd. Photo by Chris Stone
Military members march in support of transgender troops. Photo by Chris Stone
Thousands of spectators watched more than 200 parade units go down University Avenue and 6th Avenue. Photo by Chris Stone
A member of the motorcycle contingent spreads colorful smoke at the beginning of the 2019 San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
A parade volunteer signals the needed pace of the parade. Photo by Chris Stone
San Diego Trans Pride Coalition members march in honor of transgender woman of color who have been attacked. Photo by Chris Stone
A member with Queen Bee Art sports a colorful wig. Photo by Chris Stone
Joshua Kessler of Out of the Closet Thrift Stores waves a Pride American flag. Photo by Chris Stone
A young driver makes his way along the parade route. Photo by Chris Stone
Dr. Orlando Espin and Richardo Gallego were named as an inspirational couple. Photo by Chris Stone
Members of the Qualcomm unit race back to their float after it broke down early in the parade and they needed to push. Photo by Chris Stone
Congressman Juan Vargas follows his custom of dancing down the parade route. Photo by Chris Stone
A member of Jewish Family Services waves to the parade goers. Photo by Chris Stone
A mini Highway Patrol car is propelled down the parade route. Photo by Chris Stone
Members of the FBI and their children march in support of the LGBT community. Photo by Chris Stone
Members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral march in support of the LGBT community. Photo by Chris Stone
A parade participant from YMCA fist bumps a young child who is watching the parade from someone’s shoulders. Photo by Chris Stone
A poodle got a dye job for the parade but gets a free ride for at least part of the parade. Photo by Chris Stone
More than 200 units participated in the 2019 San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
Miss Las Vegas Pride princess wears a colorful outfit. Photo by Chris Stone
A sousaphone carried by a member of the Pride Youth Marching Band is decorated and reflects the route. Photo by Chris Stone
Parade goers show their enthusiasm for parade participants. Photo by Chris Stone
Members of Catholic parishes show their support in the San Diego 2019 Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
Children with Jewish Family Services greet parade goers along the route of the San Diego Pride Parade 2019. Photo by Chris Stone
San Diego State University color guard members carry the pride of their school. Photo by Chris Stone
Long-time survivors of HIV/Aids touted the progress in treating people with the disease. Photo by Chris Stone
A member of Stepping Stone of San Diego sits amid a display of balloons. Photo by Chris Stone
Terry Love with Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps raises his hair and fist atop a truck. Photo by Chris Stone
A marcher with the San Diego County Credit Union displays his pride. Photo by Chris Stone
A woman with the IKEA San Diego unit is as colorful as a butterfly. Photo by Chris Stone
A girl with Creative Stages of San Diego flips as she makes her way down the parade route. Photo by Chris Stone
A member of Temple Emanu-El expresses the inclusiveness of her synagogue. Photo by Chris Stone
A topless rollerskating woman, who is wearing pasties gets a reaction from the crowd. Photo by Chris Stone
A young girl in the Sharp Health Care unit enjoys the parade from her perch. Photo by Chris Stone
At the end of the San Diego Pride Parade, spectators gather under a large rainbow flag as it is moved along the parade route. Photo by Chris Stone
A girl with Mama’s Kitchen unit exemplifies the Love sign on the building behind her. Photo by Chris Stone
Marchers called for the protection of gay people of color. Photo by Chris Stone
Parade goers walk under the long rainbow flag at the end of the San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
A young boy with the US Bank unit delighted in his romp under a rainbow flag carried by bank employees. Photo by Chris Stone
Supporters of presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg march with the mayor’s likeness march in July 2019 San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
Two women react to the members of the Rebel Legion, who dressed as “Star Wars” characters. Photo by Chris Stone
A colorful float was entered by the San Diego Community College District. Photo by Chris Stone
Rich San Diego Bar was the final float in the 2019 San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
Parents expressed their support and pride in their children. Photo by Chris Stone
A fire-breathing performer for KNSJ Radio delighted onlookers at San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
Community officers show their support for the LGBT community. Photo by Chris Stone
San Diego Community College Chancellor Constance Carroll leads a large group of employees from her district down the parade route. Photo by Chris Stone
Harris Resort entered a float in the 2019 San Diego Pride Parade. Photo by Chris Stone
Transgender members of the military marched as well as military members of the Marines, Navy, Air Force, Army and National Guard.
“I think that San Diego is doing a great job,” said Lt. Col. Tom Keegan of the California Air National Guard, before the parade. “I think they are open and inviting to all people who want to be here, and we’re happy to support the communities that we serve.”
“It’s important that all the folks through all the communities realize that we are their military. We are representative all the communities from which we come and I think that is very important that they see that we are proud to be here,” said Keegan, who walked with other former and active military members.
Elisabeth Gibbons, who is transgender and served in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years said, “It’s good to see such a strong support for the LGBTQ community, I know especially in the military.
Regarding transgender persons serving in the military, Gibbons said, “There is nothing medically, mentally, anything wrong with us. We are able to serve. Nothing stopped me.”
San Diego Pride also continued its 45th annual celebration Saturday with a 5K run and the beginning of a two-day festival at Balboa Park.
According to San Diego Pride, the parade is the sixth largest Pride event in America and attracts more than 250,000 people each year.
The parade ended at Balboa Park’s Marston Point, the site of the two-day Pride Festival.
The festival attracts more than 45,000 people each year, according to San Diego Pride, and features more than 100 musical acts on four stages. Singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer King Princess headlined the festival Saturday while singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge will headline the festival Sunday.
“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that launched the modern-day LGBTQ civil rights movement, our Pride theme is ‘A Legacy of Liberation,’ and I can think of no one better to embody that spirit than Melissa Etheridge,” said San Diego Pride Executive Director Fernando Lopez.
“Her decades of meaningful music and inspired advocacy continue to connect the LGBTQ community and carve a better path forward both here and around the world.”
The full festival lineup and a map of the festival’s layout can be found at sdpride.org. Tickets start at $20 online for one-day general admission and $25 for weekend-long general admission. Tickets will also be available at the festival’s entrance.
— City News Service contributed to this report.