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The 37th Annual San Francisco Pride Celebration

Pride Not Prejudice

San Francisco’s annual Pride has always been about embracing our differences and celebrating our similarities. This year’s theme “Pride Not Prejudice” not only seeks to highlight that principle, it aims to cement that motto into our psyche. It’s about taking time to remember the first Pride celebration in 1970, called “Gay In,” around the time of the Stonewall uprisings. It’s about taking time to remember the origins of the Rainbow Flag, created by Gilbert Baker for the 1978 parade. It’s also about giving ourselves time to reflect on how far we’ve come since then, and how far we still have to go. It’s about taking pride over all of those things, taking pride in ourselves, and taking pride in each other.

While the 37th Annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration officially takes place on the last full weekend of June (the 23rd & 24th), the community sees the entire month of June as a time for commemoration. It’s not all about Pink Saturday anymore. In addition to a variety of officially selected festivities, this month San Francisco will play host to a range of events that run the gamut from modern art and local music to international film festivals and theater premieres. After all, if we are to be truly proud of our heritage and our culture, we must practice a whole-hearted commitment to inclusion.

Although not directly affiliated with SF Pride, the 10th Annual National Queer Arts Festival takes place in June and features a number of important artistic events designed to give voice to the LGBT community. What follow are only a few highlights from a very exciting schedule of events. “Forever Never Comes,” a stage play by Enrique Urueta detailing the journey home of a trans man and the relationship he develops with a young Latina, begins June 5th at the LGBT Community Center. Budding writers can attend readings of works by folks from the BENT writing institute in Seattle. The “Here’s Where I Stand” Annual Pride Concert this year will feature performances by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, with the Voices Lesbian Ensemble as special guests.

Frameline31, beginning on June 14th and going through June 24th, is the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. Highlights of the festival include André Téchiné’s The Witnesses, Eytan Fox’s politically charged The Bubble, and Trained In The Ways of Men, an arresting documentary about the brutal death of Alameda County teen Gwen Arujo. In addition to standout films, this year’s festival will feature special guests like Alan Cumming, who in addition to having starred in blockbusters like X2 and Spiceworld, will present his directorial debut Suffering Man’s Charity to an eager San Francisco crowd. The 2007 recipient of the Frameline Award is independent film producer Anrea Sperling, who has produced arthouse hits like D.E.B.S., But I’m A Cheerleader, and Prozac Nation. The Castro Theatre, Roxie Film Center, Victoria Theatre, and the SF Design Center will screen these select few in addition to many others.

The hallmark events of the San Francisco Pride Celebration are its Saturday festivities and the Parade that takes place the following Sunday. Every year Civic Center transforms into a microcosm of the LGBT world. Each corner will house a stage or an area designed to represent every faction and interest. From Faerie Village to Family Center, Leather Alley to NectArena, visitors will find performances, food and booths to cultivate every curiosity and satisfy every interest. In dance floors alone, the Pride celebration ensures a theme for every fancy. Shadowplay will present new wave, elelctro and 80s grooves to pique indie sensibilities. The Homo Hip Hop Stage gives space to international and local communities of hip hop artists, MCs, and DJs. And the Country Stage will even provide room for waltzes, line dancing and swing.

The Annual Parade that takes place on the following Sunday will of course feature familiar local and national community contingents such as PFLAG, Dykes on Bikes, as well as various businesses and schools. In addition to welcome local authorities and Mayor Gavin Newsom, this year’s Grand Marshals are Pat Norman, founder of the Institute for Community Health Outreach, John Newsome, founder of “…And Castro For All,” a fixture of the local music scene Bay Area native Page Hodel, activist Robert Haaland and marriage equality fighters Stuart Gaffney and John Lewis. A celebrity Grand Marshall has yet to be announced, but past honorees have included Jennifer Beals and Honey Labrador.

With a full calendar of special events and community activities, the pride we each have in our culture is apparent. It is not the purpose of celebrations such as these to merely emphasize the importance of community involvement over a short period of time. Pride may only last for a month, but its sentiment and message should remain evergreen.

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