For the first time in decades, thousands upon thousands of people will not march down Market Street this year to celebrate San Francisco Pride because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The colorful celebration of LGBTQ experiences, which has been held nearly every year since its humble beginnings in 1970, is officially canceled, Pride organizers announced Tuesday.
Organizers had hoped to postpone the parade until later this year, but decided to cancel the event as the coronavirus raged on, with nearly 1,000 confirmed cases in San Francisco so far.
The celebration would have been the historic 50th anniversary of San Francisco Pride, with the theme of Generations of Hope. More than 1 million revelers were expected to attend.
“This was not a decision we arrived at lightly,” Fred Lopez, executive director of San Francisco Pride, said in a statement.
Carolyn Wysinger, president of the Pride Board of Directors, said organizers did not want the parade to become a “ground zero” for coronavirus spreading throughout the LGBTQ community.
“We had to really keep the health and wellbeing of our community in mind,” Wysinger said in an interview.
Wysinger said organizers sought to postpone the event until shortly after the crisis ended to reunite the community in celebration, but the outlook of the virus remains unclear.
“Right now, healthwise, we can’t really determine what it is going to look like going into the future,” Wysinger said. “So it was better to go ahead and call it.”
The news comes a week after Mayor London Breed cast doubt on San Francisco being able to hold any large-scale event shortly after the crisis, including the Pride parade.
In a statement Tuesday, Breed joined Castro Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, in supporting the decision to cancel Pride in 2020.
“The City will continue to work with SF Pride to celebrate everything Pride stands for in the weeks and months to come, and San Francisco will emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever,” Breed said.
Those looking to celebrate Pride in June will still have online options. On June 27, San Francisco Pride plans to join other organizations across the world in a “Virtual Global Pride.”
“I have no doubt that SF Pride will put together a terrific slate of virtual events for this year’s celebration,” Wiener said. “Pride is my favorite part of every year, and though it’s disappointing that we can’t be together in person, we will find creative ways to uplift and celebrate the LGBTQ community.”
Organizers also plan to host a curated gallery of photos from prior Pride celebrations online, rather than at City Hall, as part of the Generations of Hope theme.
And there will also be scheduled Pride talks held online by the Commonwealth Club.
“Flags will still fly in June,” Wysinger said, even “if I have to get up there and put them there myself.”
Also, Pride 2021 is still on.
“It’s going to be even grander now that we are celebrating two Prides,” she said. “I don’t even want to think of a future where we are still sheltered in place.”