By Kendra Sitton
With dozens of events planned for this hybrid Pride celebration, there is much to be excited about this year’s annual Pride week in July. Here are the top 10 things we are looking forward to at Pride, from drag shows to gathering in person.
- Being together in person
Pride wasn’t canceled in 2020, it just shifted to being online. This meant viewers could hear from LGBTQ+ organizers around the world and see diverse new performers. Still, it lacked some of the joy of being in a crowded street cheering alongside others. San Diego lifting coronavirus restrictions means LGBTQ+ people and allies get to gather once again to enjoy each other’s presence.
- March going back to Pride’s roots
There will be no Pride parade this year. Instead, everyone is invited to march from Balboa Park to the Pride flag in Hillcrest. In many ways, this is a return to Pride’s origins in San Diego. On the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1974, a small group of gays and lesbians marched on the sidewalks without a permit and stopped at red lights to avoid conflict with SDPD. The next year, they had a permit and a much larger group of 400 paraded through the city. It was the start of annual celebrations of queerness and demands for equality that continue to this day. This year’s event will be much more like that 1975 march than the 2019 parade, with LGBTQ+ walking in Pride regalia and carrying protest signs.
- Greater accessibility
While some are excited for in-person events resuming, the combination of virtual and in-person events lets people unable to gather in person still participate in this year’s festivities. Other events, like the Pride Resilient Community March, are accessible to all mobility devices. Other events will have American Sign Language interpreters present, all in an effort to ensure disabled LGBTQ+ can take part in this year’s festivities.
- First Black Pride party
Previously, there was a section at the San Diego Pride Festival dedicated to Black LGBTQ+ individuals that included food from nearby Black-owned businesses and entertainment from the Movement Stage. Without a festival this year, the Black LGBTQ Coalition is hosting Black Pride, an all-day rooftop party at Hotel Solamar. This will be a fun way for Black LGBTQ+ to reconnect after a year in isolation and celebrate the beauty of their Blackness.
- Featuring San Diego’s first gay mayor
San Diego has had a number of LGBTQ+ elected officials since former Councilmember Christine Kehoe was first elected in 1992, but Todd Gloria is the first to hold the highest office in San Diego City. Mayor Gloria will be participating the SD Pride Live, the virtual event full of entertainment and educational content. Past mayors have participated in Pride, but none have been a part of the community so this is an important milestone.
- Drag shows for all
The most famous drag performer at this year’s Pride weekend is Gottmik, the first trans man to compete on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Drag has been incorrectly stereotyped as entertainment performed by cisgender gay men dressed as queens but the lineup of this year’s performances push against that stereotype with Hung Real Lo, a local trans man who performs as a drag king, as well as other transgender and non-binary performers parodying gender presentations. The lineup shows drag is for everyone – on the stage and in the audience.
- Pride at the Park
There is no Pride festival but Pride at the Park is a great new party at a luxurious location with fantastic amenities. The event at Viejas Casino & Resort will include sets by several DJs, Gottmik and other drag performers. The venue is accessible from two bus routes and people can also stay the night at the resort so they are safe to drive. Tickets are limited to 1,000 guests so don’t miss out!
- Pride in Recovery
It’s no secret that many people spend Pride partying so an event dedicated to people battling addiction is a chance to find community outside of places where alcohol is served. This time will include encouragement for people on the herculean journey of staying sober.
- Return of the Block Party
Not every event is new this year, some are returns of old favorites like the Pride Block Party. With its beer garden and areas for dancing, the event is a great kick-off to Pride weekend. It is also a great way to supporting local businesses in Hillcrest that have struggled throughout the pandemic and help preserve the queer bars remaining in San Diego.
- Pride youth events
LGBTQ+ youth are the future and are already growing up in a world more accepting than the one of their parents. Still, they face unique challenges. The youth and family events, including picnics, story time at the library and more, are chances for young people to learn about LGBTQ+ acceptance and find new friends who share their identity.
— Kendra Sitton can be reached at email@example.com.