SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - The city of San Francisco officially kicked off it's 47th annual pride celebration Monday night with a theme of "Celebration of Diversity."
Merchants in the Castro are gearing up for a huge turnout this weekend. And city leaders and the LGBTQ community say this year's pride celebration will be a platform for protest.
Mayor Ed Lee, joined by others including pride celebration organizers and U.S. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, raised the rainbow flag at City Hall.
This year, organizers say the parade takes on a tone of resistance much like what the parade started as 47 years ago a protest.
"This year is different in that the community has experience some regression some discrimination some attacks on the equal rights fight,"says Michelle Meow, board president with San Francisco Pride, which oversees the celebration.
The power of the protest element in this year's parade is perhaps best demonstrated by the robust sales of rainbow themed items at Cliff's Variety....a fixture in the Castro.
"The flags we haven't been able to keep in stock. We had to keep reordering the clothing pieces and we're totally out of the sweat bands," says Terry Bennett, owner of Cliff's.
Bennett describes the sales of Pride items as phenomenal since President Donald Trump took office; up 40 percent from the previous year.
At the beginning of this month, the store needed to re-order pride items.
"We just blew through everything that never happens," says Bennett.
Also expecting to do big business this week is popular bar, 440 Castro.
"Gay bars have always been about community," says Tony Thomas, assistant manager at the bar," It's really put a fire under young people and also the older people who did a lot of political activism. They're more involved . I've seen faces come into the bar that I haven't seen in years."
The Pride parade draws a huge crowd estimated to be over one million people.
This year, new elements include a contingent of people who participated in the Women's March in protest of President Trump's policies soon after his inauguration.
One 76-year-old lesbian says this resurgence of resistance is about human rights.
"Not just gay and lesbian rights. It's all of us whether we're immigrants any kind of minority. We all have human rights," says Janell Moon of Emeryville, a retired school teacher.
One of the parade's grand marshals will be a political activist who's also a software engineer. She will lead what's described as a resistance group.
"I always ride in the parade for "Dykes on Bikes," but my participation this year is even more important to me because my community put me in this space for all the work I'm doing," says Alex Morrison, grand marshal of the "resistance contingent." .
Merchants in the Castro say business will start to pick up substantially by Wednesday. They expect Pride weekend 2017 to be bigger than ever before.