San Diego Pride

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Marchers in the 2009 Pride Parade

San Diego Pride, also known as San Diego LGBT Pride, is a nonprofit organization which sponsors 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. Pride Weekend is believed to be the largest civic event in the city of San Diego.[1] The parade has more than 200 floats and entries[2] and is viewed by a crowd of nearly 200,000 people.[3]


San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer marches in the 2014 Pride Parade

The mission of San Diego LGBT Pride is "fostering pride, equality, and respect for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities locally, nationally, and globally."[4]


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.[5] 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.[5]

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.[5] San Diego Pride was incorporated in 1994.[6]

Recent history[edit]

In 1994 former mayor and current talk-show host Roger Hedgecock organized a group of protesters calling themselves "The Normal People".[7] 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.[8]

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.[9] This was the first time that active-duty American military personnel publicly marched in a gay pride parade.[10]

The Hillcrest Pride flag, erected in 2012

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.[11] 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."[12] 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.[1] 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.[13] 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."[10] 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.[1]

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,[14] 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.[15] Both the street rename and the flag were unanimously approved by the City Council in May.[16][17]

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.[18]

In 2016 the organization was the subject of controversy as some community members were unhappy with the organization's actions, and demanded transparency.[19] Specifically, they fired Executive Director Stephen Whitburn, a former San Diego City Council candidate. Subsequently, a group called Save SD Pride [20] was formed as a response to a perceived lack of transparency. In December 2016 it was announced the groups had reached a deal that would reform the organization by adding an advisory council, as well as consolidating into one group to focus on the 2017 Pride event.[21]


  1. ^ a b c Steele, Jeanette (August 6, 2012). "Are military uniforms OK in gay pride parades?". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  2. ^ "San Diego Gay Pride 2012". Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  3. ^ Gustafson, Craig (July 21, 2012). "Pride parade caps big year for LGBT community". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  4. ^ "What's your agenda?". Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Bilow, John (July 16, 2009). "The Stonewall 40 Project". Gay & Lesbian Times. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Founding Purpose and Objectives". San Diego Pride website. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  7. ^ Corbin, Stampp (October 20, 2011). "Strange bedfellows: DeMaio, Hedgecock and Lysol Larry Stirling". LGBT Weekly. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  8. ^ "Judge bars opposition from gay parade". Washington Times. July 16, 1994. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  9. ^ Watson, Julie (July 19, 2012). "Gay troops OK'd to march at parade in uniform". Associated Press, cited by Military Times. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  10. ^ a b Winter, Michael (July 19, 2012). "First: Pentagon allows uniforms at San Diego gay parade". USA Today. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  11. ^ "U.S. military can wear uniform in San Diego gay pride parade: Defense Department". CNN. July 20, 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  12. ^ Steussy, Lauren; Sutton, Lea (July 19, 2012). "All Military Personnel Allowed to Wear Uniforms at Pride: DOD". NBC San Diego. NBC 7 San Diego. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  13. ^ Max, Nathan (July 19, 2012). "Military can wear uniforms in Pride parade". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  14. ^ "Street In Hillcrest Renamed 'Harvey Milk Street'". San Diego 10 News. May 22, 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  15. ^ "Rainbow flag raising kicks off Pride weekend". San Diego Union Tribune. July 20, 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  16. ^ "Harvey Milk Street Approved for Hillcrest". NBC San Diego. May 8, 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  17. ^ "Hillcrest Rainbow Flag Approved Unanimously By City Council". KPBS. May 15, 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  18. ^ "San Diego Pride Festivities Continue Into The Weekend". KPBS. July 13, 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
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