Gay pride parade in San Francisco turns 40; thousands to march today
Gay pride parade, San Francisco 40th, expected to draw tens of thousands people to the event Sunday.
San Francisco — San Francisco's 40th annual gay pride weekend drew thousands to Civic Center Plaza, with even more expected Sunday for a parade, a Backstreet Boys concert and comments from U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Organizers kicked off the event Saturday in front of City Hall where thousands converged as vendors sold barbecue and burritos and DJs spun tunes on a large stage.
Advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community shared booths alongside corporate sponsors.
San Francisco's gay pride festivities have come a long way since the first parade in 1970, as has the LGBT movement, organizers and historians say.
"Barely anybody noticed," he said. "I've seen pictures of it."
The following year, there wasn't even a march, he said, just a gathering in Golden Gate Park.
Today, the march attracts tens of thousands of people, and a growing number of those are not in the LGBT community, Koskovich said.
"That homophobia that says, 'Eek, I'm not going to hang out with these people,' has turned into, 'Boy, these people throw a great party.'"
San Francisco Pride Executive Director Amy Andre said the fight for equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people has also come a long way since the first pride celebration in 1970. At the time, gay sex was a crime in California.
This year, a prerecorded address will be delivered by Pelosi and The Backstreet Boys will perform.
Andre said this year's theme, "40 and Fabulous," is partly intended to celebrate the movement's progress.
"But we're also reflecting on the fact that we still have a long way to come for equal rights," Andre added.