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For the first time in San Diego Pride history, a contingent of active-duty service members and veterans will march in the annual mile-long Pride parade, scheduled for 11 a.m., July 16, through the heart of Hillcrest.
The group is spearheaded by Navy Operations Specialist Sean Sala, who estimates that the contingent will total nearly 200 participants from all branches of the military. The service members will kick off the parade after a tribute is held to fallen soldiers and LGBT community leaders who have passed. Those who died in combat and community leaders who dedicated life service to equality will be honored by two rider-less horses draped in an American and rainbow flag, respectively.
“It has always disturbed me that enlisted military don’t march in a Pride parade. There is an immediate assumption that if you march, you’re gay. This has meant that we can’t even honor straight service members,” says Sala. “For years, other public servants like police and firefighters have been honored in the Pride Parade. It is time for our troops to receive the same support.”
The parade will feature nearly 160 floats and contingents comprised of civic groups, politicians, churches and businesses.
“We are excited to support our troops, and we commend the brave service members taking part in the parade, regardless of their sexual orientation,” says Dwayne Crenshaw, executive director of San Diego Pride. “This is believed to be the first active-duty military contingent marching in a Pride parade anywhere in the country.”
In a further show of support, San Diego Pride is seeking donations of any amount to help fund the group’s float, t-shirts and free military tickets to Pride’s two-day festival in Balboa Park, July 16 and 17. Twenty dollars will fund six T-shirts or a free military festival ticket. A proper float costs $3,500. Donations can be mailed to: San Diego LGBT Pride, 3620 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104.
For more information and details about festival entertainment, call 619-297-7683 or visit www.SanDiegoPride.org.