San Diego Pride kicked off weekend events with parade, festival
As San Diego Pride Week continues, thousands of residents partook in the return of the annual in-person Pride Parade and Festival in Balboa Park Saturday.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria marched in the parade, which began at 10 a.m. at the Hillcrest Pride Flag, 1500 University Ave. Gloria is the first openly LGBTQ person to be elected mayor of San Diego.
"Pride brings us together in times of protest, mourning, victory and celebration," said Fernando Lopez, San Diego Pride executive director. "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.
"I'm inspired by the thought of our community coming together again," he continued. "Together we will continue to pursue justice with joy."
Weekend events kicked off at 8 a.m. with the San Diego Pride 5k Walk/Run on Saturday, which began at the corner of Centre and University Avenue in Hillcrest. Last year, despite the pandemic, more than 1,300 runners and walkers from around the world participated and raised $24,000 for SD Pride's charity partners.
San Diego Pride's Parade and Festival is the fourth largest such event in the nation, event organizers said, and hosted more than 350,000 attendees in 2019. Past festivals have featured headliners such as Kesha, TLC, Melissa Etheridge, and En Vogue.
In 2020, San Diego Pride held the first Pride Live where 400,000 people tuned in to celebrate the LGBTQ community. In 2021, San Diego Pride held over 40 hybrid virtual and in-person events, with more than 100,000 attendees throughout Pride week.
Since its founding, San Diego Pride has granted over three million dollars back to the local and international LGBTQ+ community from the revenue generated by the annual events.
"LGBTQ diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to our efforts to invite people to our vibrant city because when people feel welcome, they want to visit," said Julie Coker, president and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority. "That is why we are so excited San Diego Pride is scheduled to return in 2022. It will highlight our friendly, inclusive spirit while attracting visitors to our hotels, restaurants, and cultural attractions and boosting our local tourism economy."
The parade ends at Laurel Street, where the entrance to the Pride Festival is located. The two-day festival begins at 11 a.m. in Balboa Park, with live music on four stages, including Ashnikko, Baby Tate, Daya and Snow Tha Product.
The complete lineup consists of more than 100 LGBTQ+ entertainers, organizers said.
"Our goal at this year's Pride Festival is to predominantly feature our fiercely talented local LGBTQ community," Lopez said. "We are thrilled to come together again for our first in-person Pride Festival in three years, where our artists and entertainers help us be seen, be heard, find family, raise funds, build capacity, and carve out the space for us all to be unapologetically our true, authentic selves."
The festival also includes educational and art exhibits, vendors, interactive cultural presentations, local food, HIV testing, children and youth areas and more.
"We are still fighting for justice and that takes away from our joy," said Mila Jam, one of Saturday's performer and a Black and transgender advocate. "We need each other now more than ever to stand strong and see liberation through."
The San Diego Public Library will get in on the fun as well, releasing a limited-edition library card with a design created by Crawford High School student Leslie Pagel. It features an illustration of Marsha Johnson in front of New York City's Stonewall Inn. Johnson was a gay and trans rights activist and one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising of 1969.
"I wanted to honor her and the work she did for the community," Pagel said. "She was alive during a time when trans people were heavily misunderstood, yet they were the ones to carry much of the community's fight towards liberation."
The library will have a booth at the Pride Festival. More information can be found at www.sandiego.gov/public-library/lgbt.