The San Francisco branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation kicked off the 50th anniversary celebrations of Stonewall with a June 20 speak-out at 24th and Mission Streets. Participants spoke about what life was like before the Stonewall rebellion launched a movement that has changed the lives of LGBTQ people. Speakers recognized the need to continue the struggle in the spirit of Stonewall as bystanders stopped to watch and passersby received flyers for upcoming Pride events.
The PSL followed the speak-out with a June 21 forum analyzing the history of the LGBTQ movement and the need to continue to build for liberation, and a film showing of “Major” the following week.
Pride weekend in San Francisco started with the Trans March on Friday, June 28, then the Dyke March on Saturday and a Pride Parade Sunday. Over the course of the weekend, we rallied alongside thousands of local and international community members to highlight the LGBTQ struggle for equality.
The Trans March
Many thousands attended this year’s Trans March. An air of celebration prevailed at the resource fair and rally before the march, as well as a recognition of the need to answer the attacks on the transgender community. More than a dozen Trans March attendees carried signs that highlighted the lives of multiple trans women killed by police across the nation within the last few years. Hundreds of attendees carried bricks to symbolize the one thrown by NYC trans activist Sylvia Rivera that kicked off the Stonewall Rebellion.
The PSL contingent highlighted the demand police not be welcome at Pride, as well as the spirit of struggle that has characterized the LGBTQ movement. We led hundreds of marchers in chants such as “How do you spell murder? SFPD!” — garnering positive responses from onlookers and other organizations.
Jaqueline Luna, who attended the march while visiting from Los Angeles, emphasized that she believes the police were an unnecessary and harmful addition: “I don’t believe they’re here for us. They’re here to protect the businesses and San Francisco streets. In a perfect world they’d be here to protect those of us marching … but historically and even now, police do not protect LGBTQ members.”
The Dyke March
On Saturday, Dolores Park swelled as the Dyke March gathered for hours for a rally before marching into the Castro. The PSL organized a contingent carrying banners that read, “50 Years After Stonewall, It is Still Right to Rebel,” and “Fight for Socialism and LGBTQ Liberation.”
The Pride Parade
The PSL has marched in the Resistance Contingent at the front of the Pride Parade for a number of years. This year the organizers allowed a New Zealand Royal Police Officer to participate, in uniform, as well as corporations. As part of the contingent,” PSL members objected to the participation of police and corporations in the Pride Parade overall but particularly in the contingent. The organizers did not remove the police officer or corporations, so we distributed a leaflet to the contingent demanding “Cops and Corps out of Pride.”
The Resistance Contingent also included UNITE HERE Local 2. The PSL and Local 2 marched together and shared chants. We energized the crowd to promote progressive labor, antiwar and socialist action.
Fred Boyer, who attended the parade to celebrate his bisexuality, highlighted the injustice of the police presence after marching alongside the Harvey Milk Club this year: “The police can’t whitewash our history. A cop killed Harvey Milk. We can never forget that. Traditionally, the police have had a bad relationship with the community so if they have to be here, they shouldn’t be this visible, nor do I think it’s cool for them to wear PRIDE regalia.”
“As an alternative we should just have a network of community organizations to protect marchers,” added Angela Gregory, a Bay Area native. Gregory also touched upon corporations like Google’s presence at the march: “It’s just bull***t advertising because they’re not providing protections or any sort of activism beyond the month of June where it’s prominent. It’s to make them be seen as a responsible company, but if you look at their policies or where they receive donations from, they’re not allies.”
A celebration and source of education
All in all, PRIDE weekend proved to be both a celebration and a source of education. Participating community organizations advocated for greater rights for the LGBTQ community and conveyed the legacy of the Stonewall Rebellion to the many thousands of attendees.