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San Diego Pride Weekend To Kick Off With Spirit Of Stonewall Rally

The San Diego LGBT Pride parade float goes through Hillcrest in July 2013.

Credit: "Big Mike" Phillips

Above: The San Diego LGBT Pride parade float goes through Hillcrest in July 2013.

San Diego Pride's annual weekend celebration and festival will kick off Friday with the Spirit of Stonewall Rally to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

The rally will be held at the Hillcrest Pride Flag to honor members of the local LGBTQ community and celebrate the gains made since the 1969 riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York. The event's speakers include San Diego LGBT Community Center CEO Cara Dessert, social worker Bixby Marino-Kibbee and RISE San Diego CEO Dwayne Crenshaw.

San Diego Pride first held the Spirit of Stonewall Rally in 1975 during the first San Diego Pride Week. San Diego Pride Executive Director Fernando Lopez has called the event his favorite part of the annual LGBTQ celebration.

"It calls me home, lifts my heart and helps me remember what we're fighting for," Lopez wrote in an sdpride.org blog post last month.

The Stonewall riots were spurred by an early morning police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village. The riots lasted four days and are recognized as the spark for the gay liberation movement.

RELATED: How The Stonewall Riots Influenced San Diego Pride

Last month, New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill issued a formal apology for officers' actions during the riots, the first time the New York Police Department has taken such a conciliatory step.

The rally's speakers are expected to discuss the ways in which seeking asylum relates to the LGBT community. They also plan to call for an end to the murder of black trans women and for the passage of the federal Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.

The House of Representatives passed the bill in May and it now awaits consideration by the Senate. On Thursday, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Council members Chris Ward and Jennifer Campbell affirmed the city's support for the bill and called for its passage.

"For nearly half a century, San Diego Pride has played an important role in bringing people together to recognize and celebrate the LGBT community," Faulconer said. "Despite the progress that's been made, LGBT people still face discrimination. Every single American deserves equal rights, and we should give every American an equal chance to succeed in this great country of ours."

The Spirit of Stonewall Rally is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Hillcrest Pride Flag, located at 1500 University Ave. The rally will take place during the Pride of Hillcrest Block Party, which will include guest appearances from contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race, food trucks, a Ferris wheel and a 65- foot Pride flag.

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