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SAN DIEGO – Hundreds of LGBT pride celebrations take place in cities and towns across the United States and the world throughout the year, but it is always special when Pride is celebrated at home. There is a certain air of fabulousness that can be felt in the air as the LGBT community and their allies come out in full force, and put on their brightest rainbow colors.
The 38th annual San Diego LGBT Pride festivities will take place this weekend -- under the theme "America's Pride" -- and this year, there is a lot to celebrate. Since last summer’s celebration, a lot has happened in the community’s fight for equal rights, including the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and local victories such as the approval of Harvey Milk Street and the Rainbow Flag Project in Hillcrest.
San Diego’s LGBT community will celebrate those accomplishments this weekend, including a rainbow flag raising ceremony at the new flagpole at the corner of University and Normal Street, followed by the first-ever Pride of Hillcrest Block Party on Friday night. The Pride Parade and Festival are also expected to be a blast, with headline entertainers such as Natasha Bedingfield, Sandra Bernhard, Frankie Negron, Justin Utley and Alex Newell of "Glee."
Besides the events organized by the Pride organization, a number of bars, nightclubs and community groups will also have Pride-themed activitities over the next five days, and there will truly be something for everyone.
FilmOut San Diego to screen “Gayby” and "Welcome To New York"
Hoping to make a pre-Pride film screening a new tradition, FilmOut San Diego will present the local premiere of director Jonathan Lisecki's “Gayby” tonight at 7 pm at the Birch North Park Theatre, along with Steven Tylor O'Connor's new short film "Welcome To New York." San Diego Pride is co-presenter.
The directors of both films will be in attendance and will participate in a Q&A session with the audience after the movies are shown.
The cast includes Mike Doyle, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Jack Ferver, Jonathan Lisecki, Louis Cancelmi, Alycia Delmore, Charlie Barnett, Adam Driver, Joanne Tucker, Sarita Choudhury and Dulé Hill.
Tickets to the 7 pm screening are $10 and can be purchased HERE.
The Birch North Park Theatre is located at 2891 University Ave.
Pride re-invigorates the Friday night kickoff, Spirit of Stonewall Rally
For years, San Diego Pride has struggled with the annual Spirit of Stonewall Rally, which many call the “political portion” of the weekend celebration. Held in various locations over the years, the inspirational event has drawn far less attendees than the rest of the weekend’s events.
This year, however, big crowds are expected to head to the rally, which will take place at Harvey Milk and Normal Streets, for an evening of music, awards presentations, and a keynote speech by Dr. Clarence Jones.
At the end of the rally, a rainbow flag will be raised for the first time on the new 65-foot flagpole at University Avenue and Normal Street, spearheaded by the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) and maintained by Pride.
The inaugural Pride of Hillcrest Block Party
Following the Spirit of Stonewall Rally, HBA and San Diego Pride have teamed up to produce the first-ever Pride of Hillcrest Block Party, which will include a headline performance by Neon Hitch.
The event, which will take place on University Avenue at Normal Street, will include music, food, drinks, dancing and a Ferris wheel – all on the streets of Hillcrest.
Organizers hope to make this a new San Diego Pride tradition, and hope that community members will come out to celebrate the kickoff of Pride weekend at the block party.
Michael Kovach, a former San Diegan who will be traveling from Laguna Beach this weekend to attend the pride festivities, is most excited about the flag raising and block party events.
“I missed the unveiling of Harvey Milk Street so I am not going to miss this,” Kovach told SDGLN. “This is such an important milestone for this community.”
Kovach said he appreciates San Diego because it is a true community, that has so much love in it.
“I went to San Diego for the first ever time in 2003 to attend Pride. It was so amazing and I told myself that I would move there after college – which I did! And loved living in such an incredible community.”
Tickets are $15 in advance for regular admission, and $50 for VIP. On the day of the event, prices will be $20 for regular admission, and $75 for VIP.
To purchase tickets, visit Baja Betty’s, Urban Mo’s, Hollywood Tans (500 University Ave.), or online.
The Pride Parade
Everyone loves a parade, especially the LGBT community. Each year, San Diego’s LGBT Pride Parade – called the fourth-largest such parade in the country – travels down University Avenue and Sixth Avenue toward Balboa Park. This year, almost 200,000 spectators are expected.
Last year’s parade made international headlines as it included the first-ever contingent of active duty servicemembers marching in an LGBT pride parade. This group will participate in the parade again this year, and it’s not sure if all participants will be able to wear their uniforms. SDGLN broke that story earlier today.
The parade will also include a number of other attractions that community members have come to love, such as the San Diego Women Motorcycle Riders, elected officials, youth and student contingents, nightclubs, local businesses and community groups, such as the beloved PFLAG.
The contingents for Rich’s San Diego and Hale Media, parent company of SDGLN and SDPIX magazine, will close out the parade, and community members are encouraged to join in and follow the end of the parade to the festival grounds in Balboa Park. As has been tradition for a number of years, San Diego Pride’s giant 300-foot rainbow flag will be rolled out at the end of the parade, and spectators and encouraged to grab hold and help carry it.
The parade will begin at 11 am Saturday at University Avenue and Normal Street, turning left on Sixth Avenue, ending at Balboa Drive and Upas Street.
A number of local radio stations will set up reviewing stands along the parade route, and a Senior/ASL reviewing stand will be located at University Avenue and Normal Street.
Members of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus will also be selling tickets to the Pride festival along the parade route.
Ben Howard of San Diego said he is particularly excited about the parade because it brings the community together.
“I’m so excited for the parade because it allows us to come together and be ourselves,” Howard said. “I like that we can all stand together for those who can not.”
More information, including the free shuttle schedule, is HERE.
San Diego Pride’s two-day festival is situated in one of the most beautiful locations in the country, at Balboa Park’s tree-lined Marston Point.
The festival will include multiple stages of entertainment, vendor booths, art, cultural presentations, a children’s garden, carnival rides, food, drinks and more. Because of its location, size and attractions, San Diego Pride's festival has become a “premiere” pride event in California.
As part of its diversity initiatives, San Diego Pride’s Diversity Task Force will present a “Colors of Pride, Shades of Life” booth at the festival, which will include a number of workshops on diversity issues.
Pride has also adopted a number of accessibility initiatives and these are outlined HERE.
The entertainment is what draws many to the festival, and this year’s headline performers are sure to draw large crowds. Sandra Bernhard and Alex Newell of "Glee" will perform Saturday night, with Natasha Bedingfield headlining on Sunday night.
More than 80 additional DJs, bands, comedians, musicians and other performers will take to the stages and dance floors at the festival throughout the weekend.
Tickets are $20 for a one-day pass, and $30 for a two-day pass. Discounts are available for seniors, youth, students and military, with free admission for children younger than 12.
Tickets can be purchased at the San Diego Pride office, Baja Betty’s, Gossip Grill, Hillcrest Brewing Company, House.Boi, Urban Mo’s, or online.
Members of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus will also be selling festival tickets along the parade route on Saturday morning, as a fundraiser for their organization.
For more information about the San Diego LGBT Pride Festival, click HERE.
The streets of Hillcrest and surrounding neighborhoods will be flooded with people this weekend visiting local bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and other events.
The SDPIX event calendar has a full listing of bar, nightlife, and special events taking place this weekend, while SDGLN’s Jim Winsor will share some of his recommendations for San Diego Pride weekend celebrations in his Thursday “Out & About” column.