People with rainbow balloons march through the San Francisco Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25th, 2017. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)

SF Pride parade fills downtown with color, resistance

Thousands donned their most colorful outfits and watched as demonstrators, revelers and politicians marched down Market Street early Sunday to the bumping sounds of the 47th annual Pride parade.

The parade kicked off near the Embarcadero just after 10:30 a.m. as the Dykes on Bikes revved their motorcycles, starting the march toward Civic Center. Nearby, resistance groups held signs mostly protesting the Trump administration, while partiers danced on corporate floats for companies like Uber.

This year’s Pride was marked by internal conflict between the groups participating the parade, which argued over whether the entire parade should be a themed protest against President Donald Trump. One group at the front of the pack held signs saying, “Cops and corporations out of our parade.”

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Dressed like a golden Elvis Presley, Albany resident Marcos Sorensen chatted on Spear Street as he and a rainbow-clad contingent called Verasphere waited for the parade to begin. Sorensen held a sign that read, “Love me tender and keep your tiny hands off my healthcare.”

“This weekend is about a lot of things including pushing back on this travesty,” Sorensen said, pointing to his sign. “Stop Trumpcare, baby.”

When the parade kicked off, resistance group chanted, “No ban, no wall, the Trump machine has got to go” while raising their fists in the air. Behind them, the Harvey Milk Democratic Club chanted “Queer Power.”

But the parade was not about protesting for everyone.

As the parade reached Sixth Street, a small crowd gathered outside the barricade where Rowan Jean Tobias Smith had just proposed to his boyfriend Theodore Ayers.

“It’s my first Pride and I want to make it as memorable as possible,” said Smith. “This is the perfect place to do it. I want to spend the rest of my life with him.”

Smith, a transgender man from Wichita, Kan., said he came to California to be accepted.

“We finally got to California because my dad beat the crap out of me, told me that it was wrong that I was transgender, told me that it was wrong that I was gay, I’m not supposed to be this way,” Smith said. “So I came out here to California to be with him.”

For politicians who attended the parade, Pride was an opportunity to critique the Trump administration.

“At a time when some national leaders continue to adopt discriminatory rhetoric, it is more important than ever to celebrate acceptance and love for all,” Mayor Ed Lee said in an email through a spokesperson. “We cannot let hate win, and San Francisco will continue to lead the fight against bigotry.”

In an email to his supporters before the parade, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom harkened back to 2004, when San Francisco issued same-sex marriage licenses while he was mayor.

“Californians have always pushed the country forward on issues of equality,” Newsom said. “And with all the hatred we’re seeing in D.C. and in states across the country, it’s on us to keep leading now. That’s what Pride is about.”

Supervisor Jane Kim, who spoke to the crowd outside City Hall, said Pride is about acceptance without boundaries.

“Especially during these times when national leadership at the White House is proffering a different vision for this country, the Pride March becomes an even more important ground for resistance,” Kim said in a text message. “As a woman, I appreciate the underlying challenge to gender and gender norms foundational to Pride.”

The parade and celebration at Civic Center Plaza are the finales for Pride weekend in San Francisco, which also included the Dyke March at Dolores Park on Saturday.

Market Street will be closed until 3 p.m. Sunday from Beale Street to 8th Street, according to parade officials. The celebration is expected to continue at Civic Center Plaza until 6 p.m.

SEE RELATED: Street closures planned for SF Pride celebrations

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People with rainbow balloons march through the San Francisco Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25th, 2017. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)

The 47th annual San Francisco Pride Parade (Michael Barba / S.F. Examiner)

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