San Diego Pride
San Diego Pride is an annual three-day celebration in San Diego, California every July, focusing on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The event features the Pride Parade on a Saturday, preceded by a block party in the Hillcrest neighborhood the night before, and followed by a two-day Pride Festival on Saturday and Sunday in Balboa Park. It is sponsored by San Diego LGBT Pride and is believed to be the largest civic event in the city of San Diego. The parade has more than 200 floats and entries and is viewed by a crowd of nearly 200,000 people.
The mission of San Diego LGBT Pride is "fostering pride in and respect for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities locally, nationally, and globally."
The vision of San Diego LGBT Pride is "a world free of prejudice and bias."
In the 1970s, gay men in San Diego founded a Center for Social Services in a house at 2250 B Street. The Center became a social and political focus for the gay community. In June 1974 the Center hosted a gay pride event which included a yard sale and potluck dinner at the Center as well as an informal parade to Balboa Park and back. Marchers had to walk on the sidewalk since they had no city parade permit. In 1975 the community was able to secure permits for a rally and a 400-person march. The parade has been held every year since, despite organizational and financial problems, which were finally solved in 1989 with the formation of a permanent Pride organization with professional management.
In 1991 the event was moved from June to July. In 1993 the parade was moved to its current route from Hillcrest along University Avenue and 6th Avenue to Balboa Park.
In 1994 former mayor and current talk-show host Roger Hedgecock organized a group of protesters calling themselves "The Normal People". They applied to march in the Pride parade “in political disagreement to the homosexual agenda.” When rejected by the organizers of the parade, Hedgecock filed a lawsuit, arguing that their exclusion violated San Diego's "Human Dignity Ordinance." The Superior Court rejected their claim, arguing that their right to march was not protected under the ordinance, since the parade was a private event and the "Normal People" message was intended to interfere with the event.
In 2011 several hundred active and retired military service members marched in the parade, in anticipation of the imminent removal of the "Don't ask, don't tell" rule for U.S. military personnel. They did not wear military uniforms, but rather T-shirts with the name of their branch of service. This was the first time that active-duty American military personnel publicly marched in a gay pride parade.
In 2012 the U.S. Department of Defense granted permission for military personnel to wear their uniforms while participating the San Diego Pride Parade. This was the first time that United States military personnel were permitted to wear their service uniforms in such a parade. The local Navy command had already approved the wearing of Navy uniforms, but the DOD decided to add their official stamp of approval "since the event has garnered national media attention." The Defense Department stressed that this was a one-time approval and applied only to this particular parade, based on their determination that the event was a non-political civic event. Military members are generally permitted to participate in parades if the parade is nonpolitical, patriotic in nature, and a civic event, but they need specific permission to wear their uniforms at such an event. The DOD directive stated, "Based on our current knowledge of the event and existing policies, we hereby are granting approval for servicemembers in uniform to participate in this year's parade, provided servicemembers participate in their personal capacity and ensure the adherence to military service standards of appearance and wear of the military uniform." Two Republican congressmen objected to the decision, saying that the parade was political in nature, but organizers said it was not political, pointing out that both of San Diego's mayoral candidates marched in the parade, even though one is a conservative Republican and the other is a liberal Democrat.
Also in 2012, the parade started from Harvey Milk Street, the first street in the nation to be named after gay civil rights icon Harvey Milk, and proceeded past a huge new rainbow flag, which was raised for the first time on July 20, 2012 to kick off the Pride festival. Both the street rename and the flag were unanimously approved by the City Council in May.
The 2013 festival featured an outdoor wedding chapel (couples arranged for their own officiants) in celebration of the overturning of California Proposition 8 the previous month. Grand marshals were Latoya Jackson and George Takei with his husband Brad.
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