Dive headlong into a weekend-long celebration of gay pride in San Francisco. The city has long been the epicenter of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, with a long history of activism. Join the festivities for a weekend you’ll never forget.
A long-standing tradition in San Francisco Neighborhoods
Pride celebrations have been taking place in SF since 1970 in various forms. It began as a small gathering of about 200 to 250 in Golden Gate Park, in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots – a series of gay protests that rocked Greenwich Village after a violent police raid in 1969.
Today, pride festivities take place annually in the last week of June to honor this historic event. As many as 1.5 million attend the parade, which begins in downtown SF. It is considered the largest gathering of LGBTs and LGBT allies in the United States.
San Francisco has been home to prominent LGBT figures over the years, including Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay public official; Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, renowned lesbian activists and publishers; George Choy, who advocated for the rights of gay Pacific Islanders; and more.
The iconic rainbow flag was also created here, designed in 1978 by local artist and activist Gilbert Baker. The flag initially had eight stripes, but as it became mass produced, the six-striped version of the flag has become more popular.
A colorful weekend
The pride parade is the highlight of the weekend, but there are a number of related events that are also worth attending. Film festivals, bazaars, pride-themed parties, the Trans March, and the Dyke March take place in the days leading up to the parade.
You can also look forward to more than 20 community-run stages where you can catch live performances and DJ sets. However, the main stage is the largest one, and previous performers include artists like Betty Who and Cazwell.
More than 200 exhibitors and contingents join the parade each year, and the festivities are organized by nonprofits and volunteers. Attendees come in their flashiest attire, so wear your most over-the-top outfit.
If you’d rather watch from the sidelines, you can view the parade in its full glory from the grandstands. Spectator seating is usually available on the north end of Market Street.
If you’re bringing a car, you can have a parking slot reserved ahead of time with GottaPark. But organizers recommend public transportation in order to avoid traffic issues – take the BART to any of the downtown stops and forget about parking.
Not an SF resident? Book a room at any of the local hotels and stay for the whole weekend. It’s generally advisable to find a place in Civic Center or the Financial District – both locations will put you in the thick of the action, being close to parade routes.
But Castro is still the best place to stay if you want to experience SF’s famed gay nightlife. Hit the bars and clubs, and walk back to your hotel once the night is through.
Can’t join the parade? Don’t fret. There’s live coverage, so you won’t miss a thing.
If you’re thinking of moving to San Francisco, call Bernie and Mike Homes at 415.906.6000.