The 1960s and 1970s were a time of great leaps in the Civil Rights Movement, but none as great as that in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community. Much of the push for these changes came out of San Francisco, California. Since 1970, the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Celebration (commonly known as the San Francisco Pride Festival) has gathered together those of all levels of the Kinsey Scale. With their families and friends, those of the LGBT community come to celebrate their freedom and their love in the welcoming arms of the City of San Francisco. One of the largest gatherings of its kind in the world (and by far the largest in the United States), the San Francisco Pride Festival is a two day commemoration of all the phenomenal strides Civil Rights has taken in just a few short years.
Held the last weekend of June each year, this celebration honors the diversity of the people of San Francisco and helps to show how together each individual has made the city such a glorious place to live. Filled with live entertainment, speakers, dancing, and thousands of revelers; the goal of the festival is to educate the world, commemorate their heritage, celebrate their culture, and liberate all people. A substantial portion of the profits of each year’s event go towards several not for profit charities including breast cancer and HIV/AIDS research. Despite the serious nature of the festival, there is plenty of fun to be had over the two days it is held. By far the biggest draw is Sunday’s San Francisco Pride Parade. Lead by Dykes on Bikes (formerly The Women’s Motorcycle Contingent) the street procession includes some 200 other marchers. One of the biggest contingents in the march are those belonging to PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). It is marked by many of its various chapters around the country and is filled with hundreds of moms, dads, brothers, sisters, and cohorts all honoring those in their lives who have had the courage to stand up for their rights and be strong in who they are. Other groups represented are local churches, politicians, and the Leather Contingent which is made up of myriad people running the gamut of gender and sexuality.
As thousands line the streets to dance to the music and celebrate freedom they cheer on the many and varied floats that glide majestically down the route. Each fantastically decorated in their own right; it is sort of a competition among entrants to have the grandest and most spectacular float each year. And with each successive parade the decorations become only more impressive. Yes the parade is one of the more remarkable parts of the festival, but there is so much more to do such as kid and family functions, wonderful performances, exhibits, lots of parties and club events, and plenty of opportunities for business and networking. With over a dozen varied stages and venues, the San Francisco Pride Festival has an astonishing number of ways to entertain, delight, educate, inform, and generally celebrate the fantastic mixture of people that make San Francisco such a great place to live, work, and play.
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