Pride weekend a reminder
of what makes San Francisco special
By Mike Aldax
June 21, 2007
Christopher Wilkens loves living in San Francisco's lively Castro
District, but he says the area can be too lively at times.
"The place goes off 12 months of the year," he said.
"It can wear you out."
After 15 years in the Castro, the 38-year-old has often considered
moving to the quieter suburbs. But he changes his mind every June
during pride weekend, when the Iowa native is reminded why he
moved to the West Coast in the first place.
"I moved after my first pride weekend and I've literally
stayed because of it," Wilkens said.
"For me, it's an annual reminder of why I feel comfortable
Wilkens will join thousands this weekend for the 37th annual
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride
Parade and Celebration.
The celebration along Market Street and the Civic Center runs
from noon-6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Sunday's parade, which is expected to draw around 500,000 spectators,
starts at 10:30 a.m., beginning at Market and Beale streets and
traveling west to Eighth Street.
With more than 200 parade contingents, 300 exhibitors and 18
entertainment stages and venues, the event is the largest of its
kind in the U.S., and maybe the most peaceful.
"It's great bringing together such a diverse group of accepting
people," said Cheryl Kohout, media coordinator for SF Pride.
"No one at Pride is concerned about society's prejudices.
Once a year, everyone can just be who they are."
As usual, the world's most famous gay, transsexual and transgender
stars will be on hand, including porn star Buck Angel, actress
and performer RuPaul, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's Jai Rodriguez
and Heroes' George Takei.
RuPaul will be attending the screening of her movie Starrbooty
on Saturday at the Castro Theatre, which is hosting the International
LGBT Film Festival this week.
Buck Angel will be signing autographs at the Delores Park Trans
Rally on Saturday with San Francisco sexuality product retailer
Good Vibrations. The retailer has prepared 30,000 gift bags packed
with condoms, lube and hand gloves to hand out.
Good Vibrations' gallery at 1620 Polk St. is also hosting an
exhibit by noted photographer Duane Cramer, which runs through
July. Also look for a performance of the musical HAIR and a concert
by the San Francisco Opera on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.,
SF Pride, of course, isn't only about fun and games. In accordance
with this year's theme "Pride, not Prejudice," the event
will honor Pat Norman, founder and executive director of the Institute
for Community Health Outreach, for her lifetime of achievement
in activism and service to the LGBT community. Norman is this
year's Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshal.
"What separates this festival from Halloween in the Castro
is the message it sends," said Chris Hansen of Noe Valley.
"Pride is much less destructive (than Halloween). People
coming here in October come for the craziness. They come in June
for the message."
The full schedule of activities for Saturday and Sunday is posted
Parade officials encourage visitors to take public transportation
into the Market Street and Civic Center areas due to street closures.
Most ferries into the city will be running early, organizers said.
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