San Francisco's Pride celebration is four months away, but there's already rain on the parade: The annual Pink Saturday party has been canceled, its hosts announced Friday.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who host the event, said recent violence at the celebration has made it a challenge to keep going.
“Pink Saturday has been increasingly difficult to produce in recent years,” Sister Selma Soul said in a statement. “An escalation in violence associated with the event convinced us last summer that the event needed to significantly change if we were to produce it again.”
The Sisters are a self-described order of queer, radical nuns. Pink Saturday is a street party the night before the Pride Parade that Selma coordinated from 2012 to 2014.
It was at Pink Saturday last year that one sister had homophobic slurs yelled at her. The altercation then allegedly turned violent, as two men attacked the sister and a third reportedly beat her husband. Supervisor Scott Wiener told The San Francisco Examiner he plans to work with The City and the sisters to find other groups to host the event.
“I'm optimistic we will have a path forward,” he said.
Though Pink Saturday has in recent years become a street dance party that also raised money for LGBT nonprofits, it has its roots in radical activism. Gerard Koskovich, a longtime independent historian of LGBT life and a member of the queer community, was in attendance at a 1990 AIDS protest hosted by radical group ACT UP, which became the first Pink Saturday.
The complications around the party point to a unique paradox, he said. Homophobia used to keep people who hated the queer community away from Pink Saturday. But now, Koskovich said, “decreasing homophobia means, increasingly, non-LGBT people don't feel scared to be painted [as queer] if they show up at a place that advertises as queer.” Problematically, however, “at the same time many don't fully understand and respect queer culture,” he said.