Entertainment & Events

San Diego’s 36th Annual Gay Pride Parade Attracts Huge Crowds

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San Diego’s 36th annual Gay Pride Parade made its exuberant way down University Avenue in Hillcrest this past Saturday with 150,000 spectators crowding the sidewalks of the 1.2 mile long route in support of the local LGBT community. The theme this year was “One World, One Heart, One Parade,” an uplifting and optimistic message that was reflected in every facet of the event—from the rainbow banners fluttering through the air to the brightly decorated floats that rolled down the street amidst deafening cheers and applause from onlookers.

The parade is the fifth largest of its kind in the nation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people—a fact that seemed impossible to achieve at the onset of the celebration’s existence in 1974. In those days the parade consisted of a few hundred LGBT owned businesses and equal rights groups, and the small affair was not, in any way, welcomed by the community. “The gay community used to suffer from police brutality around the county,” Frank Sabatini Jr., spokesman for San Diego LGBT Pride, the parade’s organizer, told 10 News. These days however, the LGBT community has a strong support base—this year, churches, banks, and politicians alike participated in the parade to do their part in the gay community’s fight for equality.

Law enforcement marched in the parade on Saturday as well, earning an ear-splitting roar of support from the crowd as they passed by. Participating elected officials included San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, and U.S. Representative Susan Davis. The Grand Marshals included actress Cloris Leachman, Stuart Milk (the nephew of the first openly-gay politician elected in California), and Constance McMillen (a Mississippi high school student who was told by school officials that she couldn’t attend her prom with her girlfriend). Performances by rapper Eve, singer Blake Lewis, and punk rock band Devo topped the celebration off.

The parade was held alongside a two-day pride festival that ran through Sunday and attracted more than 300 vendors, musicians, businesses, cultural shows, etc. “This was unimaginable 18 years ago, just the scope of it,” Frank Sabatini, Jr. said. “It speaks volumes to the changes that are occurring in the levels of tolerance and equal rights.”

Photo from Grahambones via flickr


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