SF Pride cancels 50th Anniversary celebration due to COVID-19


Emily Curiel

People walk across Castro Street in San Francisco, California. (Emily Curiel / Golden Gate Xpress)

Cierra Quintana and Felicia Hyde

Every year people from all over the world come together to stroll along the rainbow honor walk, take pictures at the Harvey Milk Plaza and come together as a community to celebrate SF Pride, but now any hope of celebrating the 50th anniversary are cancelled because of COVID-19. 

On April 14, The Board of Directors of San Francisco Pride announced that they will be cancelling SF’s Pride 50th anniversary celebration due to the safety measures of the COVID-19 outbreak. Members of the LGBTQ+ community are downhearted over the decision and hopeful to see alternative forms of celebration. 

“I’m honestly really sad about Pride being cancelled,” said Virginia Garcia, a 25-year-old San Francisco native. “Since Pride is only once a year, I wait for June every year to be able to get to be around others that are in the LGBTQ+ community and to those that Pride has a special meaning to.”

For many like Garcia, Pride is a day where people in the LGBTQ+ community are able to unapologetically be themselves and don’t have to be scared or worried about being close and/or affectionate with their partner or even other members that are in the community.

There is talk of a virtual substitution, for everyone to participate in. For many years this colorful holiday is expressed with love and acceptance. A virtual ceremony would be the next best thing. 

District 8 leader Rafael Mandelman released a statement following support of his district. “SF Pride has made the right decision,” said Mandelman. “While I am disappointed that we can’t celebrate together in person this year, I am excited to see the virtual alternatives that our LGBTQ+ communities come up with.”

According to SF Pride website, to have the usual two-day celebration join a constellation of Pride organizations worldwide in a “Virtual Global Pride” on Saturday, June 27. They will be announcing additional collaborations, primarily in digital formats, to commemorate Pride throughout the summer. 

These alternate celebrations, presented alongside other community organizations and supporters, will roll out throughout the coming weeks and months.

“I think I would consider going. It wouldn’t be the same, but I think it would be better than nothing,” Garcia said. 

Community members such as Jesus Calderon, an employee of the Human Rights Campaign store located in the Castro District, have lived in San Francisco since 2015 and have not missed Pride since. Unfortunately his streak will change now that there is an option for virtual celebration. 

“It sucks that the 2020 parade was canceled due to COVID-19, but it is an essential decision that will hopefully help stop the spread of this virus,” said Calderon. 

Some members of the LGBTQ+ community understand these difficult times, the event is unfair due to the pandemic, but safety precautions need to be established. 

Anthony Sanchez was disappointed about SF’s Pride but knows that the need for this action needs to be taken very seriously. 

Sanchez visits three hours away from Tulare County just to attend Pride. Whenever he gets the chance, he loves coming to SF, just to feel welcomed and not alone. 

For the past three years he has celebrated what he calls “being myself in the public eye.” He said that this might be a difficult decision but he’s willing to do whatever it takes to show what pride is all about. 

“The true meaning of pride is to showcase us. As an individual and what we bring to the table as a society,” said Sanchez. “Mainly the support the LGBTQ community gives, I can’t express enough, our support group is a blanket whenever some is in need. No matter what the context is, there is always a mom with free hugs, and people who love you at Pride.”

Daniel Garza, a Sacramento State graduate, has been an attendee of Pride since 2012.Garza and his partner have attended over eight years of San Francisco’s Pride. He is still figuring out how he’ll be celebrating—either virtual or wait until the shelter-in-place lifts. 

“Pride is all about expression, being the genuine person you are, sometimes it’s hard being yourself, let alone holding hands with someone you love without being judged,” said Garza. “COVID-19 has changed our world, but I hope we can all come together and beat this virus to try and get back to normal.” 

This pandemic has left many concerned about what will happen regarding SF Pride’s 50th anniversary and coming together virtually may not be enough or hold as much of an impact.

Kathy Amendola, owner of Cruisin’ the Castro Walking Tours, understands the importance of safety for all communities and believes that Pride should not be cancelled but should be postponed for a later date.

“The City of San Francisco needs to reschedule a fall Pride date. If they don’t, Pride will happen anyway on Sunday, June 28th regardless,” said Amendola. “There may not be floats and high corporate endorsements but that’s all irrelevant. People will show up in the streets as together, we are Pride and nothing is going to deter this.”