San Diego Gay Pride 2009

by on July 19, 2009 · 9 comments

in Civil Rights, LGBT rights, Organizing, San Diego

By OB Rag Staffer

Saturday, July 18 marked the 35th Annual San Diego Gay Pride Parade and Festival. The parade is an annual event that draws about 160,000 spectators and 152 floats and contingents. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people are joined by family, friends and supporters to celebrate gay life and have some fun. It started at University Avenue at Normal Street and worked its way through Hillcrest, down 6th Avenue to the northwest corner of Balboa Park.

When I arrived shortly before 11:00, the sidewalks along 6th Avenue were packed with anxious spectators. The weather was the usual perfect day in San Diego. The crowd included infants in strollers, seniors on scooters, and everything in between. There were a lot of families with children. The majority of people were young to middle-aged men and women, and many same-sex couples. Most people were wearing pride beads or a piece of rainbow-colored clothing or jewelry.

The parade started with the lead cars draped with rainbow flags, escorting a large group of motorcyclists. They were followed by floats and contingents from various LGBT groups and businesses. Some of the local gay nightclubs entered floats that featured music and dancers. Most floats, however, contained messages of human rights, activism, and remembering the Stonewall Riot of 1969. Many floats carried signs reading “We all deserve the freedom to marry”. And, of course, rainbow colors adorned almost everything in sight. The full list of entries can be found at

Ocean Beach was represented by Sunset Cliffs Animal Hospital, who entered a classic VW van covered with rainbow-colored balloons.

There were quite a few government officials in the parade. They included Mayor Jerry Sanders, members of the San Diego City Council, representatives of the San Diego Police, Representative Susan Davis, Senator Christine Kehoe, Assembly Member Marty Block, and others. Smart politicians have learned that they need the support of the gay community if they are to be effective leaders.

One thing that surprised me was the number of churches that entered floats or contingents in the parade, all showing support for gay rights and gay marriage. Obviously they want to distance themselves from the more vocal churches that preach hate and intolerance. It was refreshing to see churches practicing love and tolerance.

The parade ended with a series of classic cars, followed by thousands of people marching down 6th Avenue to the Pride Festival in Balboa Park. The festival is located just south of Laurel Street. Admission is $20 and the festival is open Saturday and Sunday. For more information on the festival, see the Festical page at

The theme of this year’s parade was “Stonewall 2.0 – Activism for Equality”. It commemorates 40 years since the gay rights movement began on the heels of the Civil Rights movement, with the Stonewall Riot in 1969. It all started when the New York police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. That was the last straw for the gay community, who were tired of being harassed and arrested just for being gay. The people fought back, and have never stopped fighting back. That fight will continue until all LGBT people have the same rights as everyone else, and can live in dignity without prejudice.

The San Diego LGBT Pride website describes San Diego’s first parade in 1974: “The handfuls of brave activists who marched back then recall being afraid of losing their jobs or becoming ostracized in a climate that incited fear and hatred from those witnessing the event from the sidelines.” (Read the full text HERE) That first parade took place while homosexuality was still illegal in California. It wasn’t until 1976, after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Consenting Adults Act, that being gay became “legal”.

There is still a long way to go. On one side of the gay rights movement are the struggles for equality, including gay marriage and gays in the military. On the other side is the fight against hate and violence that is still too often a part of daily life for many gay people. Progress is being made on both fronts, but there is a tremendous amount of hate and prejudice in this country that will have to be overcome.

Let’s take a moment to remember Navy Seaman August Provost, who was found dead at Camp Pendleton on June 30, allegedly murdered for being gay; and the victims of the latest rash of gay bashing murders in New Mexico; as well as everyone who has ever been a victim of violence because of their sexual orientation. This has to stop.

Today’s parade shows how much progress can be made when peaceful activism confronts hate and ignorance. Equal rights are so close…

Click on the images to larger versions!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

lane tobias July 19, 2009 at 5:32 pm

great pics Wireless! I am also happy to see churches that support gay marriage and equality making their presence known to the community at large, especially at such a high profile event.

What a great celebration of humanity.


jon July 20, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Nice work Mike! I read somewhere that the firefighters even showed up! Interesting to see the churches apology signs too. Good for them.


Shawn Conrad July 20, 2009 at 2:47 pm

I attended this for the first time on Saturday. It is quite the event. I have about 120 photos of some behind the scenes which may not be appropriate for teh Rag being that it is a Republican paper and all.


mr fresh July 20, 2009 at 3:02 pm

teh rag is republican? why didn’t somebody tell me?


bodysurferbob July 20, 2009 at 3:21 pm

shawn – why d’ya share those ‘behind the scenes’ encounters er pics with the rest of us chickens.


Wireless Mike July 20, 2009 at 8:27 pm

This article was picked up by the blog “Good As You” at

Here’s the comment I posted there:

Thanks for linking to the OB Rag. The sign in the picture was onboard a float presented by Missiongathering Christian Church. Their website is here:

The churches and synagogues that participated in the San Diego Pride Parade included: Metropolitan Community Church, First Lutheran Church of San Diego, University Christian Church, Saint John the Beloved Cathedral, All Saints Parish American Catholic Church, Swedenborgian Church of San Diego, Missiongathering Christian Church, Unitarian Universalists of Greater San Diego, St. Paul’s Cathedral (Episcopal), Pilgrim Church UCC, Christ Chapel World Ministries, Mission Hills United Church of Christ, Congregation Dor Hadash, Congregation Beth Israel, Congregation Beth El and Temple Emanu-El. A few blocks away, St. Paul’s Cathedral had a large rainbow flag draped from the building.

It was heartening to see this outpouring of support for gay rights from churches and synagogues at such a high-profile event. We are gaining some powerful allies in our fight for equal rights and dignity, especially here in conservative San Diego.


IT July 21, 2009 at 1:18 pm

My wife and I are one of the 18,000 couples married in CA last year. At this year’s pride, we marched with St Paul’s Cathedral, which is an explicitly welcoming community, and fields one of the largest contingents of marchers for Pride every year. Our wide-ranging group of GLBT and numerous straight allies was a true rainbow of diversity. The Cathedral hosted several interfaith gatherings after the election, and after the supreme court decision, and the community also marched in the protests. As at pride, the Cathedral folks carried a banner:


We are new to that community but have been impressed at how they live that message to all of us.


Don Taylor January 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I waked in the first Parade in san diego….Boy have we com a long long way…


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