Lesbians, gays, elected officials, celebrities and visitors from around the world gathered today in downtown San Francisco for the 41st Pride Parade and Celebration.
Kicking off the parade at 10:30 a.m. in the Embarcadero and making its way down Market Street to the Civic Center, about 200 groups waved, threw plastic necklaces and cheered at hundreds of thousands of people gathered along the route.
A lesbian group on motorcycles known as “Dykes on Bikes” led the parade, followed by many bicyclists, part of an AIDS ride group. LGBTQ-friendly police, deputies and firefighters honked horns and flashed their lights for the brightly colored and creatively dressed crowd.
San Franciscan Caitlin Roach decided “this is going to be the best Pride ever” and noticed that there was “a lot of love” throughout the streets.
“My favorite thing about Pride is how unbelievably gay it is,” said the 23-year-old with her girlfriend standing along the parade route.
Local celebrities and officials supporting the gay community rode down Market Street including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, former San Francisco Supervisors Bevan Dufty and Fiona Ma and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.
The parade’s celebrity grand marshals–actress Olympia Dukakis, transgender activist Chaz Bono and television show “Top Chef: Just Desserts” winner Yigit Pura–garnered cheers and waves.
As COLAGE, PFLAG and other groups supporting same-sex families marched the streets with many strollers in tow, El Cerrito resident Joseph Tinner, 45, commented on the political vibe at this year’s Pride celebration.
“There’s a lot on the plate,” he said. “This Pride is a little more emotional.”
Nearby same-sex marriage supporters held foam fingers that said, “Go marriage equality!”
For Nyisha Carson, Pride 2011 was her first. She came down from Sacramento to see how San Francisco celebrated the gay community, sporting a handmade feather-decorated umbrella.
“So far I like it. There are lots of people, lots of different people,” she said about the parade and nearby Civic Center festival. “Everybody is friendly.”
Police said Pride events have not been violent or out of control as of this afternoon.
Downtown San Francisco BART stations along the parade route and at Civic Center have not had any problems, according to BART officials. Trains are running on time.
Photo of SF Pride 2011 “from 8 floors up”: Steve Rhodes
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News