Update: San Francisco Pride has announced it will be canceled this year.
“This was not a decision we arrived at lightly,” said Executive Director Fred Lopez, in a written statement. “Far from it: Our staff has been in frequent talks with our board, our production team, our partners at many departments of City Hall, officials at other Pride organizations worldwide — and most of all, our LGBTQ communities. We have heard from people who urged us to cancel, and from those who implored us not to.”
In lieu of the annual celebration, SF Pride will join a groups of other Pride organizations worldwide in a “Virtual Global Pride” on Saturday, June 27.
Although it’s one of the biggest moneymakers in the city, the San Francisco LGBTQ Pride Parade and related festivities should be canceled for 2020.
This year’s Pride, happening the weekend of June 27, is still continuing as planned. Fred Lopez, executive director for San Francisco Pride, told the San Francisco Chronicle that his team will move forward to have both the parade and the celebration take place while—somehow—following social distancing guidelines shortly after the SF shelter-in-place order is currently scheduled to end.
“[W]e at SF Pride are realistic that this year’s historic anniversary may look very different from what we had hoped for, and all options are on the table,” Lopez said in a statement, adding that he will work closely with our City Hall to “continually assess the outlook for gatherings like ours in the months to come.”
However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, quashing this year’s festivities entirely would prove a wise decision—or else risk putting the public in danger. SF Pride draws in nearly 1 million people annually. That’s a lot of people to cram into a city measuring roughly seven-by-seven miles. Those people, who come from around the world to celebrate, would need to use city infrastructure, like public transportation and city sidewalks, in heavy volume. And don’t forget about hotel taxes for which the city is most desperate.
In addition to the official Pride parade, which happens on the last Sunday in June, there’s the Dyke March and the Trans March, two tertiary events that also attract crowds.
The weekend-long celebration, which extends into the entire week, also sees bars, nightclubs, parks, theaters, and other areas busting at the seams with people. It’s too much this year. The Bay Area’s shelter-in-place is currently scheduled to end on May 3, but to view that date as anything other than a possible easing of certain restrictions would be foolhardy.
Social distancing as a long-term strategy has helped curbed’s the spread of the virus. Epidemiologists say that one of the reasons the Bay Area’s numbers are so low is that we ordered the shelter-in-place directive before St. Patrick’s Day. They cite New Orleans, which let Mardi Gras go forward as planned, as being “among the nation’s top coronavirus horror shows.”
As frustrating as they are, the isolations and distancing work. According to Vox, “The outright lockdowns of movement in some cities, as well as the less severe policies in place across the country, can slow the spread of the pandemic. And per at least one poll, people are, by and large, complying.”
Save for New York City’s Pride celebration, which is technically still set to go the same weekend as San Francisco’s, other major cities like London, Boston, Miami, and Long Beach, have canceled Pride for 2020. Wise moves.
Above the multibillion-dollar companies advertising their ostensible diversity and the countless politicos stumping for votes, two elements that now dominate the annual parade, Pride is still about LGBTQ people coming together in unison, in close proximity. This year, unfortunately, that should not happen.