Gay Pride

In San Francisco, the end of June sets the stage for one of the largest and most flamboyant gay parties in the world. This event is referred to in the city simply as Pride, but is officially San Francisco’s Gay Pride Festival. The build up to this event is an all week affair. Starting Monday, bars in several gay districts, including the Castro, SOMA, and Polk, have special events and many drink specials. Beer busts are very common around this time; whereby, for just 10 dollars you get all the beer you can drink in about three hours. Popular bars during this time are Truck and 440 on Tuesdays as well as the Mix and Badlands on 18th Street at any time of the week. On the weekend, another spectacle leading up to Gay Pride is the Dykes on Bikes procession up Noe Street in the Castro. This is a no brainer folks; basically, lesbians and their lovers proceed through the Castro beaming with pride whilst straddling their bikes or lovers naked, painted, or in leather. This is truly a must see event before Pride and it occurs on the Saturday before the parade around 6:00pm. A must visit bar to visit Saturday evening is Deco, as it usually throws its gay bear event called Barracuda to coincide with Pride weekend. Bears, cubs, otters and cheap booze – OH MY!!

On the day of the parade, families can enjoy many colorful and complex floats either entertaining the crowd with a party bus or making a political statement such as the right for gay citizens to marry. There are many organizations in the bay area that take this parade as an opportunity to communicate to the world issues affecting the LGBT community such as finding an HIV vaccine, animal abuse, cracking down on drug addiction, and addressing the needs of impoverished children around the world and in the US.

The parade generally gets going Sunday morning, this year on June 27th, around 11:00am. Starting from Market and Beale to Market and 8th Streets, it picks up at 12:30-1:00pm and is usually over around 3:00pm. However, we recommend that you leave the parade around 1:00pm and head to the Civic Center (between McAllister and Grove and 8th and 10th Streets) where a huge multi-block party occurs and plays host to over 50,000 people in a five block radius. This party is truly for everyone as various blocks are marked off with stages for Latino, Hip-Hop, or General pop genres. In June, 2009, BOA, a rising Korean Asian sensation, made her American debut-you can imagine the Asian community was out en force supporting their Asian role-model. Other notable celebrities who have attended the parade are Margaret Cho, Lady Gaga, and of course the Governator. In addition to music, you can find food and beverages, including beer and cocktails, at every venue. In the center of it all, there are many booths where you can buy clothes, fetish toys, jewelry, and much more. With over 200 parade contingents, 300 exhibitors, and 19 stages and venues, the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration and Parade is the largest LGBT gathering in the nation.

Pride obviously causes quite a stir in the city, and this is most apparent in the Castro, or the Stro to locals, after the parade around 8:00pm. Nearly every bar is packed and the entire street, including Castro, 18th from Sanchez to Diamond, and Market from Castro to Noe are jam packed with partiers. This event is truly a hidden treasure and, most importantly, is for everyone. Straight, gay, tranny – there is something for you. So mark your calendars for Gay Pride at the end of June!!

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