The San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade of 2013 (Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable)


Good Evening:

Nothing like a pair of Supreme Court decisions to turn 1.5 million people at a parade into 1.5 million good buddies, friends, companions, and even a batch of newlyweds. This year’s Pride Parade must rank among the most joyous of them all, bringing out a larger than normal bunch of celebrators to join in the festivities. Definitely more people than last year. I have a funny feeling the extra participants this year might have contained a majority of heteros; this is San Francisco; no one wants to miss a great party.

As has become traditional, the Dykes on Bikes launched the parade with perhaps a record number of bikers. But aside from the sheer number, something else looked different this year.

DSCN6496_2_3We don’t normally see a lot of “Just Marrieds” amongst the riders. I had no way of distinguishing among the truly just married, the just married a long time ago, the just wannabe just married, the just engaged so they can become just married, or the just celebrating the fact that they can become just married. For these pictures I used my point-and-shoot because all of them are Hail Mary photos–hold the camera high over your head and pray you get the shot.

DSCN6498Men? On bikes?? On bicycles type bikes??? Truly we San Franciscans are a radical bunch.

DSC_0040Either the daughter is giving daddy a lift, or she’s a girlfriend with her boyfriend. A fair number of heterosexual couples joined the parade this year, a theme to which I shall return later.

DSCN6507The local constabulary brought up the rear maintaining order, and received some of the loudest applause of all. I also saw many parade attendees thanking beat cops for their service. That represents a huge sea change in attitudes that might not have received the attention it merits. Historically, relations between law enforcement and the gay community have not gone well (see Riots, Stonewall), so the mutual friendliness must mean that something in American has changed forever, and for better.

San Francisco has 800,000 residents, and 1.5 million people came to the parade, so do the math and you’ll realize that almost doubling the population in a single day means that not all of the partygoers were gay. In fact, the Pride Parade seems to become more and more hetero each year. Of course, we had the usual number of nearly nudes posing for pictures with tourists (and as usual the tourists posing for pictures were hetero women), but–well, first some more shots. Note the tutus in the first one. I saw a lot of those this year, and none of the fancy balloon outfits from last year’s parade. Hypothesis: people found out the hard way that balloons pop. For the non-motorcycle pictures, I used my DSLR.

DSCN6518 DSCN6523 DSC_0177

The men wore jockstraps this year, probably not certain of how the new anti-public nudity law might apply to the parade. Now consider this picture. Can you tell which of these women are gay?

LGBT 2013 DSC_0132You can’t. That the point. Sunday got hot in San Francisco (low 80s F downtown), so the attendees wanted to dress for the heat. The thing is, and I’m sorry to write this, hetero women dressed for hot weather tend to come in for verbal abuse (what guys insist is just “friendly joking”). So how do women dress if they want to join in the fun but don’t want to get hassled for dressing lightly? The solution (please forgive me for sounding like Richard Attenborough): Batesian camouflage. Like harmless flies that mimic the color patterns of bees to discourage predators, the women dressed in rainbow colors to disguise themselves as lesbians for a day and thus evade aggravation.

Not all Batesian camouflage succeeded:

LGBT 2013 DSC_0158While they have adopted rainbow coloration patterns to blend into the scene, their closeness to each other gives away their straightness.

Aside from balloon outfits, something else did not appear this year: noxious “God hates F***” street preachers spewing their usual verbiage. Perhaps the Supreme Court caused them to give up; maybe they shall try again next year.

But you can’t help noticing how the Parade has evolved into a “fun for boys and girls of all ages” event.

LGBT 2013 DSC_0126_2_2_2Here’s one mom taking her toddler to his very first Pride Parade. Although the gay community maintains a token presence at the parade (OK, perhaps more than a token presence), the weekend events have begun to evolve into something that celebrates the City & County of San Francisco as a whole, and not just one part. Myself, I think that’s great. Gay rights are human rights, and when everybody shows up for the Pride Parade’s fun and joy, we grow that much closer together. Still, I have to wonder if/when some gays might decide they don’t like how their celebration has gotten a bit, for lack of a better term, diluted. San Franciscans have a passionate fondness for protest, so it would not surprise me at all if with a decade we see a counter-parade protesting the “straightened” parade.

Some more pictures from the weekend.

LGBT 2013 DSC_0150 LGBT 2013 DSC_0224 DSC_0183 DSC_0194 DSC_0096 DSC_0135 LGBT 2013 DSC_0131_2I hope you liked looking at some of the scenes from this year’s festivities. If you want to check out the fun next year, I’m sure The City That Knows How will figure out how to accommodate you.

Vonn Scott Bair


4 responses »

  1. Woah, woah, woah. That was a lot of offensive verbiage in one entry from a guy who…well, seems to go for likable. first of all, you photographed at least one butch in your “camouflaged” women. secondly, hetero males do not care if you tell them to your face that you are gay, they will still pester you (or photograph you without permission) if they’ve decided to either find you attractive and/or harass you. That has nothing to do with nothing. And yes, it was annoying. We never get any peace even at a GAY RIGHTS festival.

    Thirdly, if a woman currently has a boyfriend or vice versa, it does not mean they have not been bisexual at some point in their lives (or never will be). fourthly, you say that about the mom and the parade and yet…that could be a lesbian mom or a bisexual. you clearly photographed a transgendered person in a bikini as well. People in heterosexual relationships are not necessarily heterosexual and it’s not your place to decide; that’s a big part of the parade too.

    Fifthly, having worked for the parade, I can tell you that it is meant to be an all ages affair. You bet families and children are welcome.

    Sixth, hatespeech is never tolerated and is always a violation wether it is about homosexuals or others. However, those who wish to preach are given their own space away from the parade (where others are invited to listen) and that rule is enforced; good to know we were doing our job in that area.

    Lastly, I will say that I agree that an all-encompassing “human rights” and “let’s celebrate the city as a whole” is a terrific idea. Your thoughts that it has been “diluted” have been addressed by the gay community for years and there are various celebrations around the same time as pride that cater to a more concentrated effort of LGBTQ community. It is true that the fact that the parade draws a lot of income for the city is not lost on officials, but I also think the message is still there despite having my own doubts initially.


    • fiddles: Thank you for writing, but I must confess to befuddlement. Honestly, I can’t see how I might have offended you. I thought the piece made it clear (even if indirectly) that women *should* not have to suffer harassment. Look at this sentence again: “The thing is, and I’m sorry to write this, hetero women dressed for hot weather tend to come in for verbal abuse (what guys insist is just “friendly joking”).” How is that possibly offensive to women? How does this possibly favor harassment? How is “I’m sorry to write this” offensive? I don’t get it.
      Regarding your second paragraph, you write that it’s not my place to decide. Now here is what I wrote: “Can you tell which of these women are gay? You can’t. That’s the point.” Therefore, not only was it *not* my place to decide, not only did I choose *not* to decide which woman was gay–I didn’t even care. In other words, I agreed with you–before you even wrote that paragraph!
      By way of contrast, in fact, you did decide and you did care. Twice. You wrote “you photographed at least one butch” and “You clearly photographed a transgendered person in a bikini as well.” I don’t photograph sexual preferences, I photograph interesting *human beings.* So if we agree that it’s not my place to decide, or even to care, can we also agree that it’s not yours as well?
      With all due respect, I have seen hate speech at the parade. I photographed it in 2012. If you see my post about the 2012 parade, you will see some real hatred getting dished out only a few yards away from Market Street. If there existed any rule in effect last year, these street preachers violated it.
      I apologize in advance for my senseless denseness, but I have reread my post a third time since receiving your message, and I still can’t see anything that can be construed or even misconstrued as offensive. How is a line like “This year’s Pride Parade must rank among the most joyous of them all…” offensive? Honestly, I don’t know. “…so the mutual friendliness must mean that something in American has changed forever, and for better.” How can this offend? Honestly, I don’t know. “Gay rights are human rights, and when everybody shows up for the Pride Parade’s fun and joy, we grow that much closer together.” How is this sentence offensive?
      Honestly, I don’t know.
      Lastly, I didn’t say that the parade has been diluted, I wrote, “Still, I have to wonder if/when some gays might decide they don’t how their celebration has gotten a bit, for lack of a better term, diluted.” Parse that sentence again, and you’ll see the difference. Sorry about dropping the word like.
      I respectfully request that you reread my post. I have tried to find anything that might offend anyone and failed. Until proven otherwise, the possibility exists that you have misinterpreted my writing. I am far from a perfect writer. I can also become incredibly dense at times. But I never wrote a single word of this piece intending to offend anyone. I hope you will give my words the same care, respect and consideration that I have given yours, and perhaps you will change your mind about me.
      Vonn Scott Bair

  2. Pingback: The Silent Preacher of Market Street | The San Francisco Scene--Seen!

  3. Pingback: The San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade of 2014 (Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts) | The San Francisco Scene--Seen!

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