Losing Pride Parade wasn’t an option for Emily.
Although she has participated in numerous parades as a lesbian in the past, recent political attacks on the queer community have instilled a different sentiment for Sunday’s parade.
“People think it’s time to go wild,” Emily said. “But our rights are in danger as we speak.”
Then the 19-year-old donned her rainbow striped T-shirt and, friends in tow, came to San Francisco’s annual LGBTQ Pride Parade determined to counter “the [negative] way Republicans paint us.” How? Celebrating. “Queer joy is really radical right now,” he said.
On Sunday, the city’s 52nd annual lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Pride parade kicked off at the Embarcadero and concluded with the usual fun at the Civic Center. Participants in the parade included local gay politicians, state Senator Scott Wiener and District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, longtime queer organizations like Dykes on Bikes and the San Francisco Bay Times, and any company that could benefit from optics.
But as Emily said, for many viewers it was a few hours of radical joy.
Take Malaki, a 16-year-old from Fresno. He didn’t know he was going to Pride until yesterday – his first ever – and the young gay was thrilled. “I was visiting my family and they asked me if I wanted to go. I was like, yeah, oh my god!
It has been years since Malaki began to notice that his feelings towards men had changed and, in sixth grade, he realized he was gay. Fortunately, Malaki’s family is supportive and inclusive and joined him on Sunday.
“It’s so good to be here,” Malaki said, showing a big smile. “I feel so safe. I have the warm feeling of not being alone and that I can be who I am. I can be hype! “
It was also 13-year-old Bibi’s first Pride Parade. “I really wanted to go,” he said, waving a transgender flag and holding a stream of colorful balloons.
The new teenager got up at 7am to arrive on time from Novato, and then positioned himself perfectly in front to pick up the tiny flags and beaded necklaces that parade attendees threw.
Bibi, assigned to give birth to a girl, realized at the age of 10 that she was a transgender and bisexual boy.
Accompanying him at the parade was his mother, Sol Rocha, who is still learning how to best support her son. “It wasn’t easy,” he said. “I’m learning, and it’s a process. But I want to understand. As parents, you have to accept them no matter what. Like when you first kept them babies: unconditional love.
Just a few people away, Courtney, Ash and Trystan screamed at the roller skaters and pocketed the Planned Parenthood condoms.
“I wanted to go to Pride in 2019, but the pandemic happened,” said Courtney, who uses her / them pronouns. This was their first “out” as a bisexual. “With everything going on, I wanted to support everyone. People want to take away our rights from us, “they said.
Relatives on Courtney’s mother’s side rejected her after she came out, but after her mother died, she cares less than her family thinks. And “if they think I should be in the closet, I don’t want to be in that family.”
Their friend Ash comes from Willows, a small town near Chico. In that environment, Ash said he doesn’t correct people when they mistake him for “security reasons”. But the parade is a relief and a nice place to be with “like-minded people”.
Trystan agreed. “Pride has always been a big thing for me until Covid-19 stopped it. This is my first as an adult. I can dress more, “they said, highlighting the rainbow sequins on her face and the yellow, black, blue and pink striped shirt.
Other veterans of the parade also celebrated the post-pandemic holiday. Greg Cabiness, 66, resident of Oakland, and Sam Kaufman, 59, from San Francisco, said it was “nice to be out.” The couple have been partners for 10 years and, after some typical back and forth couples, they realized they marched twice.
“That’s nice. We could go to the Civic Center after this. That’s where the party is,” Cabiness said. “Seems like a more diverse crowd. It’s good to see so many more allies and acceptance, ”added Kaufman.
And Emily, the nineteen-year-old in the rainbow jersey, has brought many allies with her from home. One of Emily’s friends, Isaiah, noticed that he was adopted by gay parents. He has been at Pride for years and it is a joy to return. His other friends stressed the importance of love at Sunday’s parade in the face of politics.
“When so much shit happens with Roe v. Wade, it’s important to stick together and show there’s resistance,” said Matt, a Lower Haight resident. “People want to think of Pride as a party. It is a protest ».