San Diego Pride Parade celebration draws nearly 200,000 people
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Nearly 280 LGBTQ organizations, schools, churches, businesses, government agencies and elected officials dressed in every color of the rainbow Saturday as they marched in the San Diego Pride Parade.
Annually one of the largest Pride celebrations in the country, this year’s drew a crowd of about 200,000 as it wound along University Avenue, Sixth Avenue and Balboa Drive in Hillcrest.
The parade was the main attraction of the weekend’s festivities, though the celebration isn’t over yet. The two-day Pride Music Festival got under way Saturday with performers taking over three stages until 8 p.m. Sunday.
The festivities began at 5 p.m. Friday with the official Pride Block Party and the Spirit of Stonewall Rally. The rally honored the 1969 Stonewall riots that are largely credited with sparking the modern gay-rights movement, when patrons of New York City’s Stonewall Inn rioted in the face of police harassment.
Pride celebrations continued this morning with the Pride 5K as crowds began lining University Avenue in Hillcrest in anticipation of the parade.
The parade included an event record 279 contingents, according to San Diego Pride spokeswoman Chloe Janda.
Among those were a motorcycle contingent, a youth marching band made up of high school band members and, for the seventh straight year, a military contingent. In 2011, San Diego Pride became the first pride parade in the nation to feature a contingent specifically for service members and veterans.
Helping to lead this year’s parade were Delores A. Jacobs, the longest- serving chief executive officer of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, who was
honored at Friday’s Spirit of Stonewall Rally with the Champion of Pride award; Susan Jester, a longtime LGBTQ activist who was named a Community Grand Marshal at Friday’s rally; and Russell Roybal, the deputy executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, who was also named a Community Grand Marshal.
The theme of this year’s parade was “Allied in Action: United for Justice.” But not everyone felt as if San Diego Pride was truly allied or
united. Reverend Shane Harris, the chapter director of the National Action Network San Diego, boycotted the parade “due to a lack of African-American LGBTQ issues” being addressed by San Diego Pride, he announced this morning.
“I also am not happy with the leadership of pride this year due to the loss of former executive director Stephen Whitburn, who was committed to true
intersection and leadership for all people,” Harris said.
Harris announced he would lead a “No Justice, No Pride” protest at Sixth Avenue and Upas Street along the parade route. A Facebook page for the
protest said the group would be demonstrating against “corporate sponsorship to not only pride, but such disastrous, murderous projects like the Dakota
Access Pipeline. We resist police presence in our community and fight against the erasure of black and brown lives, and we honor the lives of our sisters who have been murdered in acts of hatred to the trans community.”
Janda, the Pride spokeswoman, said everything went smoothly with the parade and the protesters weren’t aggressive. Earlier in the day, she pointed
to the fact that several predominantly African-American groups were participating, including the San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition and the San Diego Black Panthers.
“We support everything they stand for,” Janda said. “The theme this year is `Allied in Action: United for Justice.’ We work for all causes and against racism and all social injustices.”
San Diego Pride picked this year’s theme specifically because of the “tough political climate” and wanting to address “more than just issues of the LGBTQ community,” Janda said.
Addressing the departure of Whitburn, dismissed by the organization’s board last year, Janda said San Diego Pride is in good hands under the leadership of its new executive director, Eric Heinritz.