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People’s March on Pride: Reclaiming the streets and looking fierce

Pride was canceled, but colorful marchers stepped out to revive its radical Gay Liberation message.

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A 2020 Pride faerytale: First Pride was cancelled and almost everyone was sad. The glowing Pink Triangle in the sky offered some gorgeous solace, but it seemed to all that Pride season was lost.

Then some smart people realized this could be a golden opportunity for a reboot of the increasingly commercialized, policed, non-queer affair. Pride could go back to its grassroots, diverse, riotous protest/party beginnings, taking a stand for Black/Trans Lives and against corporate dominance of public life. A protest march called the People’s March was born, led by activists Juanita More and Alex U. Inn, that would reclaim Polk Street, in the formerly queer neighborhood where one of the first ever Pride marches was held on June 27, 1970.

According to historian Gerard Koskovich:

Fifty years ago, the first-ever San Francisco Pride parade took place. It was held to mark the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City. Billed as a “Gay Liberation March,” the event saw 20 to 30 hippies and “hair fairies” traverse the length of Polk Street from Aquatic Park to Civic Center. The very much larger parades held in New York and Los Angeles took place on Sunday, June 28, so San Francisco beat them out of the gate. But the honors for the first Pride parade anywhere go to the Second City. Like San Francisco, Chicago held its parade on Saturday, June 27, 1970 — and thanks to the time difference, the marchers there took to the streets a couple hours earlier.

The People’s March—along with another “Pride is a Riot” march and rally that happened in Dolores Park—was held on Sunday in lieu of Pride, and featured a dazzling array of radical looks and messages that brought that ol’ pride hippie-fairy feeling back, this time with a dose of fierce anti-racist activism. (Don’t tell me our folks don’t know how to work a mask!) The march stopped for a rally in front of City Hall, and then continued on to the Castro, where it intersected with Pride is a Riot for a mass demonstration and dance party.

Will Pride awaken from its commercial slumber? Could this be the template for a renewed celebration?

All photos by Gareth Gooch, www.photosbygooch.com

People March organizers Juanita More and Alex U. Inn

Marke B.
Marke Bieschke is the publisher and arts and culture editor of 48 Hills. He co-owns the Stud bar in SoMa. Reach him at marke (at) 48hills.org, follow @supermarke on Twitter.

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