Metro Weekly

San Francisco, San Diego cancel Pride events due to COVID-19

California cities continue trend of cancellations of mass gatherings that might facilitate virus' spread

San Francisco Pride – Photo: Facebook.

For the first time its its history, San Francisco has announced it will not hold its Pride parade and related festivities due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city’s annual Pride celebration had been slated to take place from June 27-28, but organizers said in an open letter to the community that they felt it was best to be cautious before moving forward with any planned large-scale gatherings that could facilitate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“This was not a decision we arrived at lightly,” San Francisco Pride Executive Director Fred Lopez said in a statement. “Far from it: Our staff has been in frequent talks with our board, our production team, our partners at many departments of City Hall, officials at other Pride organizations worldwide — and most of all, our LGBTQ communities. We have heard from people who urged us to cancel, and from those who implored us not to.

“Since the coronavirus first emerged, we have held out hope that the situation would shift and we would be able to gather later this year,” Lopez added. “Well before the first shelter-in-place order, our team began to balance our excitement for Pride 50 and evaluate possible alternatives. With heavy hearts, we have decided not to go forward with the Parade and Celebration in 2020.”

San Francisco Pride Board President Carolyn Wysinger said in a statement that the organization would offer “new and creative ways to commemorate LGBTQ+ Pride” but did not elaborate on what types of alternative celebrations they would pursue.

San Diego Pride – Photo: Facebook.

San Francisco’s cancellation comes on the same day that NYC Pride called off its two weeks of Pride-related festivities, and just a few days after San Diego Pride’s Board of Directors announced that all in-person Pride celebrations, which had originally been scheduled for July, would not take place as planned.

“This pandemic has impacted all of us. We have had to change how we live our lives and Pride is no different,” Sue Hartman, co-chair of San Diego Pride’s Board of Directors. “This was not an easy decision, but everyone’s health and safety are paramount. Rest assured, our community will find ways to celebrate Pride together again.”

“We recognize how deeply meaningful Pride is to our community. Pride brings us together in times of protest and times of celebration. Pride helps connect us to community and our found family. Pride gives us access to life-saving direct services and provides grant funding to our local and global LGBTQ community,” Fernando López, the executive director of San Diego Pride, said in a statement. “In San Diego, we are privileged to have a Pride organization that does that meaningful education, organizing, advocacy, and philanthropic work all year long, not just one weekend a year. Our programs have continued on in virtual space and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”

As a member of InterPride, San Diego Pride — like New York Pride — will take part in Global Pride, a 24-hour international, virtual event on Saturday, June 27 that seeks to bring together Pride organizations from around the world to share messages of hope for the LGBTQ community.

Additional virtual or alternative celebrations will be announced as more information becomes available.

“Pride is not canceled. In-person mass gatherings are canceled,” López said. “Nothing can strip away our pride. Nothing can deny us the pride our community has built inside ourselves, our community, or the broader world. We will still find ways to raise our Pride flags, celebrate the vibrancy of our community, and bring to light the issues that our movement still faces.”

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Shelf Wood
John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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