Suzanne Ford, SF Pride's interim executive director, discusses the return of one of the city's foundational celebrations.
SF Pride is back in a big way this month.
The Pride Parade (June 26) deservedly gets plenty of love, but Suzanne Ford, the interim executive director of SF Pride (sfpride.org), can’t wait for the community to experience other events this month. “Some other can’t-miss events in June include the Lighting of the Pink Triangle in San Francisco’s Twin Peaks on June 1, the Trans March and Dyke March on June 27, the Frameline Film Festival from June 10 to June 27 and Gary Virginia and Donna Sachet’s Pride Brunch on Saturday, June 25,” says Ford, who recently outlined what the return of Pride means to the LGBTQ+ community and the city.
What does it mean to be back with a full slate of Pride events this year?
It’s a return to who San Francisco is as a city. It will be a historic moment in our ongoing fight for inclusion, acceptance and equality for all LGBTQ people. Pride gives us the opportunity to come together in solidarity to celebrate the progress that has been made, but also allows us to respond with love, activism and radical inclusion against discriminatory laws that are being enacted across the country at an alarming rate.
From a range of community stages and mainstage performances to the legendary parade with the community and celebrity grand marshals, there’s truly something for everyone at SF Pride. I’m most excited to join the parade myself and march down Market Street in the Board of Directors’ Resistance Contingent! After two years, it will feel particularly special to be back together.
Can you speak to what the parade means to the city and how it has evolved?
The San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade remains the largest gathering of the LGBTQ community and allies in the nation. We bring together hundreds of parade contingents and exhibitors, as well as community-run stages and venues. The SF Pride Parade is a statement that the LGBTQ community will not be hidden.
As a world leader in the global Pride movement and a part of the fabric of Pride events around the world, SF Pride works to educate, commemorate and continue the struggle for true liberation, both through its events and by raising much-needed funds for nonprofits across the Bay Area. The importance of SF Pride to the city cannot be understated. It signals to the world that, here in San Francisco, LGBTQ communities are a vital part of the city’s fabric.
Suzanne Ford, SF Pride’s interim executive director
What does the parade mean economically to the city?
Every year, SF Pride is a catalyst for more than $350 million generated in the city’s economy. I’m overwhelmed by just how many people are touched by San Francisco Pride. Throughout the year, we hear from the local business community about how this impacts them. From contractors and vendors to volunteers and marchers in the parade, our celebration spreads out exponentially. It’s San Francisco Pride’s responsibility to ensure an equitable distribution of proceeds are invested back into the community. As a nonprofit organization, we must look ahead to the coming years and face the realistic challenge of what it means to evolve as an organization and continue to fund future Pride celebrations. We intend for San Francisco Pride to always remain a free event for the community.
Who are two unsung heroes who lend their vision, time and dedication to Pride who you’d like to recognize?
Marsha H. Levine arrived in San Francisco in 1985 and began working with San Francisco Pride almost immediately, with the encouragement of Ken Jones, former SF Pride president. Though she holds the role of community relations manager, Marsha’s history with SF Pride goes deeper than that. She had been the parade manager for 18 years and served on the board of directors more than once. After some 40 years in the Pride movement, she’s our institutional memory and our wisest advocate.
Lisa Williams has long been a part of SF Pride, and we’re thrilled that she’ll be producing this year’s community Soul of Pride stage. During her tenure at SF Pride, Lisa was instrumental in increasing access to BIPOC folx as community grand marshals, community partners and in the parade and celebration.
Are there any new approaches to Pride this year?
SF Pride has created a new mobile app for Android and iPhone. The app will be our official guide to San Francisco Pride, including everything you need to have an excellent Pride experience: maps, stage lineups, schedule of performances, exclusive offers and much more.
Parting thoughts about Pride?
San Francisco Pride needs you! You can become a member by going to sfpride.org/join. Benefits of membership include participation in the nomination and selection of grand marshals, choosing the yearly theme of the celebration and parade, as well as voting on the selection of the board of directors. These are just some of the ways in which you can be fully engaged with Pride and the greater LGBTQ community—no matter where you live.
The parade steps off again for the first time in three years on June 26.
PRIDE IN ACTION
Here are some pride events not to miss this month.
Pink Triangle Lighting Ceremony
June 1, sfpride.org
Justin Vivian Bond at Feinstein’s at the Nikko
June 1-4, feinsteinssf.com
Sam Harris at Feinstein’s at the Nikko
June 8-9, feinsteinssf.com
The Prom’s Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla at Feinstein’s at the Nikko
June 10-11, feinsteinssf.com
How the Hell Did I Get Here? Starring Downton Abbey’s Lesley Nicol
A.C.T.’s Strand Theater
June 15-July 3, act-sf.org
Frameline46: The San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival
June 16-26, frameline.org
San Francisco’s Civic Center two-day Pride Celebration
June 25-26, sfciviccenter.org
Pride Parade, Market Street
June 26, sfpride.org
Photography by: COURTESY OF SF PRIDE