Sunday’s annual Pride parade was fueled this year by major gains in the push for LGBT equality in the past 12 months, even if many revelers acknowledged there’s still much progress to be made.
Under the theme of “Global Equality,” hundreds of parade participants marched down Market Street for tens of thousands of onlookers during the 42nd annual parade that culminated in a
celebration at Civic Center Plaza.
Since last year’s event, President Barack Obama has said he supports same-sex marriage; the federal Defense of Marriage Act was ruled unconstitutional; the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was dropped; and a ruling against California’s ban on same-sex marriage was upheld, meaning the U.S. Supreme Court could weigh in on the subject.
Still, many said Sunday the push for equality has only just started.
“It’s headed in the right direction,” said Jess Deputy, 28, of Palo Alto, who had “Legalize Gay” written across her pink shirt as she stood with her girlfriend to watch the parade. “But we still have a long way before we can call it ‘there.’”
Mitch Evans, however, said equality has come along far too slowly.
“It should’ve happened 10 years ago,” said the 52-year-old, who wed his partner in The City in 2004 when same-sex marriage was briefly legalized under an order from then-Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Adel Lizardo said he would marry his partner of 17 years if he could.
“We want to be smart about it,” Lizardo said of not getting married in 2004. “It needs to be legalized everywhere first.”
For others, the celebration was more about tradition. Duncan McCreight and his friends have cordoned off a section of Market Street sidewalk for the past 21 years to watch the parade. Situated between New Montgomery and Third streets, McCreight’s area was marked by red rope and sunflowers.
And they came prepared — drinks, fruit and even an omelet station.
“It’s a community party,” McCreight, 53, said of the setup. “Many of our friends said they wouldn’t do Pride otherwise, so it’s become a tradition.”
The parade and celebration at Civic Center Plaza appeared to be largely peaceful. Protests inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, OccuPride, did slow the parade a number of times. Protesters railed against corporate sponsorship of the parade by jumping in front of Wells Fargo, and even disrupting the Dykes on Bikes contingent.
Charlotte Jevons, 28, of Alameda said she participated in Dykes on Bikes for the first time, and if there was any commotion, she missed it. She did say the spirit of the ride, which kicks off the parade, and the crowd were more than she could have imagined.
“There was so much energy,” Jevons said.