SF 2021 Pride will go ahead with smaller, in-person events

With the theme “All In This Together,” a hyperlocal focus, and a sequined clutch of in-person events already planned—including LGBTQ+ movie nights at Oracle Park (June 11-12) with the Frameline Film Festival and a Black Liberation event around Juneteenth (June 18) at the African American Art and Culture Complex—the 51st San Francisco Pride celebration is going ahead in yet a different form this year. 

“We know how much LGBTQ people have missed the personal connection and necessary visibility that Pride brings,” Executive Director of San Francisco Pride Fred Lopez told me over the phone. “Once it became apparent that we could safely plan smaller events strictly according to the SF Department of Health guidelines, we immediately began reaching out to community partners. 

“The wonderful thing about organizations like the SF Giants and Frameline is that they already have infrastructure in place that makes it possible to incorporate Pride events safely, on a socially distanced scale. We’re basically setting Pride inside their framework. You’ll see more announced in the coming weeks, as we cautiously, in communication with the Health Department, explore what is possible.” 

Gone, again, is the huge parade and Civic Center celebration—Pride will be urging travelers from other cities to stay home. Instead, a month of to-be-announced smaller outdoor events, such as individual fitness challenges, will slather the rainbow throughout the city in June. An outdoor Pride Expo, showcasing queer-run small businesses and organizations, will serve as a community resource fair. 

Gone, too, will be last year’s marathon online Pride event that featured musicians and activists from around the world. “We loved doing the Virtual Pride event last year, but we heard it was difficult for folks to feel connected with a purely online experience,” Lopez told me. “We’ll still be active online. Over the last month we’ve launched the Pride365 experience, with Inside Pride video interviews, a podcast from Peter-Astrid Kane call [The Queerness] and an online community partner spotlight. We’re still pushing out content, just not replicating the ‘tune in’ online weekend from last year.” 

I asked Lopez if any specific lessons had been taken from last year, when in place of Pride a colorful Peoples’ March for Black Trans Lives and a radical protest against police murder converged in the Castroand reinvigorated Pride’s original activist roots. “Our board president Carolyn Wysinger is working closely with Black community members and has a great relationship with the leadership of the African American Art and Culture Complex, where we held the rally for [foundational Black trans activist] Marsha P. Johnson last year,” he said. “We’re listening to our community and seeing what’s possible.”

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