By Tom Temprano
Everywhere you go in San Francisco, Pride is in the air. From the Castro bars overcrowded with queers visiting from around the world, to Speakeasy Brewery out in Bayview, where they are gearing up to serve up pints of their special edition Harvey Milk Stout, to Civic Center Plaza, where rainbows seem to have latched themselves onto every square inch of city-owned property.
Pride is always insane for queer (and many non-queer) San Franciscans but this year, despite four DJ gigs, a massive 8 hour Hard French party, daily marches, political breakfasts/brunches/lunches AND a trip to Lake Tahoe for my little sister’s college graduation, I feel a sense of calm that has me baffled. My good friend Kelly Dezart-Smith tells me it’s because I’m a “Pride Veteran,” which makes sense but I’m leaning toward Pride, despite how hectic it is, being the calm between two storms.
Looking in the rearview mirror at the journey we’ve traveled since last Pride, I see a lot of hard work and a whole lot to celebrate. Pride 2013 was marred by the then-Pride Board’s decision to honor and then dishonor Private Chelsea Manning. In the outcry that followed, we saw the ousting of a number of members of that body as well as the removal of Pride’s executive director. This year, we see a board that sought to reverse last year’s errors by naming Chelsea Manning an honorary grand marshal. The board members have also acknowledged the impact that San Francisco’s (un)affordability crisis is having on the LGBTQ community be also honoring Tommi Avicolli-Mecca as a community grand marshal.
A number of folks are upset about this year’s Airbnb Pride sponsorship, an understandable sentiment given the company’s impact on our housing stock, but I’d say overall there appears to be less of a focus on sponsorship money and more of a focus on politics – something I’m happy to see given Pride’s roots as a community action not a swag-bag giveaway.
As we look forward past this Pride, I think I can see the cause of my calm – the exhausting fight for the heart of queer San Francisco in the second half of 2014. This weekend is a vacation by comparison. As the November ballot begins to take shape, two things are emerging as the marquee concerns for the LGBT community: keeping the Assembly Seat in District 17 queer with David Campos, and finally passing the anti-speculation tax that Harvey Milk worked on prior to his assassination. Both are seemingly uphill battles, with the same pro-developer forces ready to spend hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars trying to defeat them, and both are fights that if we don’t win we might as well pack up and hold Pride in Fresno next year, because that’s where we’ll all be living.
The winners of this year’s Pride (according to both 7×7’s The Big Gay To Do list and yours truly) have to be the awesome folks at Trans March. Not only are they being honored as community grand marshals in the Pride Parade, but the conclusion of this Friday’s march will include a landmark (literally) victory for the trans community in San Francisco.
This year’s march will end at the corner of Turk and Taylor, and will feature the ribbon cutting for the then-to-be-christened Vicki Mar Lane. From that moment forward, the 100 Block of Turk Street will be renamed in honor of drag performer Vicki Marlane, the first San Francisco street to bear the name of a trans person. Not coincidentally, this block was also the location of the historic Compton’s Cafeteria riots and is the home of Aunt Charlie’s, which is sure to be packed to the gills after the marchers have marched and the ribbons are cut.
Having to get anywhere during Pride is always one of the worst parts of the weekend. While a slew of apps will be vying for your gay transportation dollars during Pride, I highly encourage you to reinvest your dollars into the queer community and arrange for Homobiles to get you around town. Ride sharing apps may be convenient but they also come with baggage – did you know that Ron Conway has a stake in Uber? Homobiles predated them all and is around for the right reasons – getting queers home (and to parties) safely and getting queers jobs shuttling them around. This weekend I pledge to eschew the apps and text a homo instead.
TOM’S TOP TWO THINGS TO DO THIS WEEKEND
Picking two things to do during Pride Weekend is a joke. At any given time there are at minimum two equally amazing things going on across town from each other. I’ll tell you that after I get back from my sister’s (ill-timed for Pride) graduation early Saturday morning I’ll be doing the following:
SOME THING Gay Freedom Celebration (it goes until 9am so I may be hitting it after I cross the Bridge and am on my way home)
Marching with the Harvey Milk Club and David Campos in the Pride Parade, HARD FRENCH HEARTS LOS HOMOS (!!!) and then probably “winding down” at Disco Daddy and Honey Soundsystem.