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By great good fortune I happened to be in San Francisco last Sunday, on the day of the 2012 SF Pride Parade. I had only the morning to spend at the festivities, and it would be impossible to include photos of all the wonderful participants and organizations, and the vicissitudes of negotiating a large crowd sometimes prevented me from getting the images I wanted, but below is a small sample of an enormous celebration.

There is no better place in San Francisco to begin a day or end a very late night.  

Dozens more photos below the fold ...

By the time breakfast ended, the parade route along Market Street already was blocked, and I wanted to spend the morning on the sunny side, so it was down through the Powell Street MUNI/Bart station, and back into daylight to observe this.

Two homophobic signs

From what I saw, they were treated with a cool civility. San Franciscans are nothing if not tolerant.

If you're going to plan a parade in the Bay Area, you want it to begin with dykes ...
Dykes on Bikes
And bikes ...
More motorcyclists
Elderly Safety Monitor

Market Street is one of San Francisco's central corridors, running from along the Embarcadero and the Bay waterfront, up through the middle of downtown to the Castro, but Mid-Market long has been economically blighted. That may finally be changing. Twitter recently moved its headquarters to an old Mid-Market building, and Dolby Labs just announced that they'll also soon be moving there. It's where I wanted to camp out for the parade.

It's a crazy, festive atmosphere, but with hundreds of thousands of people lining the route, safety comes first.

They came on all manner of wheels, including roller-blades, roller-skates, wheelchairs and strollers.

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
In every possible way, it was a rainbow of humanity. This is Balloon Magic.
Colorful balloon costumes
Six balloon costumes, six colors
Cheer SF / Cheer For Life Foundation included members of numerous organizations and schools.
Cheerleader flying in the air
The early part of the parade didn't include many floats, but this is the Board of Directors.
Board of Directors' float with GG Bridge
A lot of spontaneous cheering greeted these veterans and members of Alexander Hamilton Post 448, the only GLBT American Legion Post.
Veterans and American Legion Alexander Hamilton Post 448
Veteran in wheelchair
Gilbert Baker, inventor of an icon, was recipient of the Pride Founders Award. In 1978, he designed the now ubiquitous and universal rainbow flag.
Gilbert Baker in open car
Bay Area American Indian Two Spirits (BAAITS).
BAAITS with banner
If you know the history of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, you know that the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus came to define courage, perseverance, dignity, and strength. They embrace life, create art, and reveal the greatness of the human spirit.
San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus/Golden Gate Performing Arts
Canadian. French-Canadian. What more need be said?
Zumanity, The Sensual Side of Cirque du Soleil, in open car
The Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration was one of many with particularly relevant political messages.
ORAM with banner
Remember those hate-mongers just outside the Powell and Market MUNI/Bart station? Appropriately enough, the ACLU was the parade's Organizational Community Grand Marshal, and was represented by a large contingent, of whom these were but a small number.
ACLU with I (heart) Free Speech signs
The difference on health care between Republicans and Democrats, between conservatives and liberals? Republicans and conservatives want to take access to health care away from people. Republicans and conservatives want to repeal President Obama's Affordable Care Act, thus stopping construction of hundreds of new community health centers, while also taking insurance away from young people who now can remain on their parents' health insurance plans (particularly necessary in the aftermath of the Bush economic meltdown) and allowing insurers to deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions. Republicans and conservatives also want to end Medicare and Medicaid as we know them. In absolute contrast, Democrats and liberals want to build on the ACA, until access to quality health care is a national birth right. In other words, Republicans and conservatives want to hurt people; Democrats and liberals want to help people.
Sign that says: Health Care For All Californians
The agents of regression and repression will not prevent this dream's imminent emergence into reality.
Young Dream Act supporters
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo was Global Grand Marshal. His advocacy of LGBTQ rights both in Uganda and at the United Nations makes him one of the world's greatest living heroes.
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo in open car
Bishop Senyonjo was not the parade's only proof that religion does not have to be haven and excuse for bigotry and hatred.
Episcopalians for Same Sex Marriage
Bishop Mark W. Holmerud and Bishop's Associate Nancy Feniuk Nelson of Evangelical Lutheran  Church in America, Lutherans Concerned/SF Bay Area, Standing for Marriage Equality in open car
Needless to say, just about every local politician either appeared or was represented at the parade. Every Democratic politician, anyway. Curiously, there seemed to be no Republicans.

Rather than list or post images of every local Democrat, I will focus on my favorite, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano. Like many who didn't live in California at the time, I first became aware of Ammiano thanks to his eloquent and heartbreaking appearance in the Academy Award winning 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, which was far superior to the more recent Academy Award winning fictionalized version, Milk. As a young, gay schoolteacher, Ammiano had been a friend and colleague of Milk, who along with Sally Gearhart and others, led the successful opposition to the 1978 Proposition 6, the Briggs Initiative, which would have banned gays and lesbians from working in California public schools. As a measure of how dramatically things have changed, that election was, until the very end, considered a toss-up.

When I later lived in the Bay Area, I came to support Ammiano's own political career, as he followed in Milk's footsteps, also after some unsuccessful attempts finally winning a seat on San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, eventually even becoming its President. The highlights of his Board leadership include establishment of the city's Domestic Partners Ordinance, and the city's first in the nation universal health care ordinance. I know many activists both in politics and the arts, and they universally praise Ammiano's heart, principles, and leadership.

Tom Ammiano in open car
In so many ways, Milk remains a living presence.
Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club with banner
Dot Jones, Celebrity Grand Marshal.
Dot Jones in open car
Asian & Pacific Islanders both marched and had one of the few floats in the early part of the parade.
Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center float
Carmen Carrera, Celebrity Grand Marshal.
Carmen Carrera in open car
Sambaxe, the Brazilian dance company. Not a great photo, but I love their outfits.
Sambaxe in colorful outfits
Abadá-Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art.
Abadá-Capoeira demonstrating acrobatics and poses
It's easy to decry the hypocrisy of Republican and conservative critics of marriage equality, but I'd rather just acknowledge, honor, and celebrate love, and those able to find it and keep it.
open car with John Lewis & Stuart Gaffney and John Hemm & Steve Weir, both couples married June 17, 2008
Donald and David, 46 years and counting, walking
The SFPD also had a large contingent in the parade, and this officer was tossing necklaces to the appreciative crowd.
SFPD patrol car, with officer leaning out window, with handfuls of colorful beaded necklaces
SFPD officers and their loved ones, some walking hand in hand
If you think his two predecessors were slick, Mayor Edwin Lee also had a large presence, marching in celebration of the recently announced return to San Francisco of the Warriors NBA basketball team.
Lee / Warriors marchers
Sheriff Vicki Hennessy and one of her deputies each rode in the parade, but this was my favorite representative of their department.
Sheriff's officer walking hand in hand with member of the military
A quiet and powerful statement.
Sign: Thank you, Bradley Manning
OFA was out in force, and their parade participants were handing out pink Obama LGBT stickers. Long after having left the parade, all day and night, all over the city, I saw people wearing these stickers. It's purely anecdotal, but my observation is that this most liberal of cities is very enthused to re-elect this president.
OFA with banner
The immigration crisis could not have been more eloquently distilled than on this simple, concise and heartbreaking hand-written sign. The Republicans and other opponents of fair immigration love to blither about family values, but the reality is that their plans and policies tear families apart.
Out 4 Immigration- Stop Deporting Our Partners with banner, and one hand written sign saying: We Miss Our Dad In Argentina
Latinos de Ambiente del Area de la BahÌa were so glorious I have to include four photos.
BahÌa percussionists
BahÌa flag and balloons
BahÌa colorful costumes
BahÌa butterfly costumes
Celebrity Grand Marshal Sarah Silverman was focused on the other side of the street, and this was the closest I got to a shot of her face. People all around me were yelling for her, and only after she was almost out of sight did she realize it, and turn back and wave. People were amusedly annoyed, and in that spirit I want to say: Sarah, you're the poet of my heart; never change, never stop.
Sarah Silverman in open car, facing the other way
It's about family. It's about love and it's about family.
Our Family Coalition / COLAGE with banner
It was past noon, and I had important plans for lunch. The parade managed to go on without me. And on and on and on. And I was headed onward through the crowd.
Huge crowd near Market and Powell
I missed most of the large floats, and what I did see was barely a quarter of the entire parade lineup; the complete list is here. The whole city was buzzing, and when I ate dinner at the Ferry Building that night, the lines to board the boats were packed with people wearing rainbows and other festive garb. It made this former resident of the Bay Area proud, indeed.
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