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San Diego Pride

Gay Pride Parade San Diego

The massive amount of Facebook status updates from locals and visitors this weekend tells the common story of San Diego Pride parade goers: those in town for San Diego Pride saw tons of colorful sights - and word on the street is that quite a number got good color. We wear our sunburns with pride!

Despite the very noticeable tan (and red) lines many of us have ended up with, it was so worth it to attend this significant event that palpably felt like history in the making. San Diego Pride took place this weekend, with festivities kicking off on Friday, July 20.

Centered around the theme of "America's Pride: Equality is an American Value", the 2012 San Diego LGBT Pride began with The Spirit of Stonewall Rally and Flag Raising Ceremony.

The Spirit of Stonewall Rally and Flag Raising Ceremony

Held at Harvey Milk Street and Normal Street in Hillcrest, The Spirit of Stonewall Rally and Flag Raising Ceremony recognized individuals whose work has contributed to considerable strides forward in the gay rights movement.

These individuals included the Champions of Pride, Senator Christine Kehoe and Jerry Turner; Friends of Pride, Dr. Aaron Bruce, Congresswoman Susan Davis and Tess Banko; Stonewall Service Award Recipients, The Safe School Task Force and The Imperial Court de San Diego; Community Service Award Recipients, Joe Foster, Joey Powers and Linda Perine.

Lifetime Achievement Award (Posthumous) Recipient, Charles McKain, was also honored for his significant contributions to the gay rights movement.

Senator Christine Kehoe: Stand-Out Honoree

Senator Christine Kehoe, one of four openly LGBT members of the California State Legislature, received noticeably strong applause. She worked with dedication to secure domestic partner benefits for city employees, and drummed up a helpful amount of grant money for the San Diego LGBT Community Center. She used to be the director of the AIDS Assistance Fund, which eventually became the San Diego AIDS Foundation.

Senator Kehoe really stood out to me among the other members of the community being honored, because she holds such a public position as a politician. Rather than hiding part of who she is so that she can sidestep conflicts that might arise from her being a lesbian politician, Senator Kehoe chose to embrace the challenges and rewards that come with working for civil rights and being public about her LGBT status.

Dr. Clarence B. Jones: Keynote Speaker at Pride Rally

The crowd was excited for the keynote speaker, Dr. Clarence B. Jones, who helped draft the famous "I Have A Dream" speech with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ever since then, Dr. Jones has continued his work facilitating civil rights progress.

He is now currently Scholar in Residence at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. There definitely seemed to be plenty of respect for this man who has been an integral part of the civil rights movement for so many decades.

He spoke about the similarities between the challenges that African Americans have faced and the challenges that those in the LGBT community are currently facing. He pointed out that during the history of our country, women were not allowed to vote - and that was eventually changed. He talked about how over time, progress is constantly being made with the help of our actions. Dr. Jones garnered an enthusiastic response from the crowd when he proclaimed, "You are beautiful. You are somebody."

City Councilman Carl DeMaio: Not So Popular?

City Councilman Carl DeMaio is openly gay and running for mayor of San Diego. He was widely booed while he was onstage, and some spectators turned their backs toward him. The LGBT community critics of Carl DeMaio have issue with how he has accepted campaign donations from sources that are against marriage equality and other pro-LGBT issues.

Hillcrest Has A New Rainbow Flag!

There was so much excitement in the air when the new rainbow flag was about to get raised. It was what my friends and I were waiting for. We came to see this huge banner go up that means so much to the LGBT community. Finally, it was time.

The speakers and people who were honored onstage during the ceremony all stood together and helped each other unfold the massive piece of fabric. Then, one of the onstage members pulled the rope that steadily hoisted the flag higher and higher.

The wind seemingly picked up at the perfect time, and when the flag was at the top of the pole, a sudden gust allowed it to unfurl completely. A visible and constant symbol of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of our community, the flag flies high above the street with eye-catching rainbow colors.

Festivities Were Lively at 2012 San Diego Pride Parade

The parade on Saturday was a hit, drawing an estimated 200,000 people. Uniformed service members from all branches walked in the parade and got considerably strong applause and cheering from spectators. The Department of Defense gave permission for service members to wear their uniforms and walk in the parade. During last year's San Diego Gay Pride Parade, about 200 active-duty troops participated in the walk - however, they were wearing t-shirts announcing their branch names rather than their uniforms.

The excitement and pro-LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) support was going strong at the event. The San Diego LGBT Pride Parade ran for a whopping two hours. It's definitely the longest parade that I've ever attended. More than 200 floats dazzled the eyes and ears of onlookers.

Some floats had dance music playing and costumed dancers performing, some to the beat of their own drum while others impressed with choreographed dance routines. Talk about skill! Stilt walkers in full makeup and eye-catching outfits walked the entire way. I can only imagine how they kept their balance for such a long distance.

So many members of the community were here showing their support. Parade floats represented businesses, non-profit organizations, religious organizations, politicians, police, individuals and of course, every branch of the service.

A Weekend Packed With Historical Moments

We made history at San Diego Pride 2012. It feels like it was such a significant weekend that marked a huge turning point in the pro-LGBT movement. It was so incredible for me to see hundreds upon hundreds of floats over the course of the afternoon.

All these people packing the streets along the sidelines as well as the ones actually walking in the parade were supportive of equal rights and had great respect for the LGBT community. Happy Pride, San Diego!