Thousands celebrate 54th annual San Francisco Pride Parade

Pride month reached its grand finale Sunday with the annual parade in downtown San Francisco. Market Street turned into a colorful sea of pride. 

There were 50,000 marchers, more than 200 contingents, and hundreds of thousands of spectators on Market Street. 

The roar of motorcycle engines kicked off the 54th annual parade. Dykes on Bikes has been first in line since 1976.

"It was a group of dykes that were in the middle of what was then the pride celebration march, and they got sick of being in the middle, and they moved their bikes to the front of the parade," said Dykes on Bikes president Kate Brown. "Kind of a moment for claiming our lesbian dignity and somebody coined the name Dykes on Bikes and it has stuck with us ever since."

Actor-singer and celebrity grand marshal Billy Porter waved to thousands who lined Market Street.  

Valentina Vargas, an exchange student from Mexico, attended her first San Francisco pride parade. 

"It's really amazing, it's really big. I feel like where I'm from, it's a little state, so there's not a lot of people that celebrate like that," Vargas said. 


San Francisco pride celebrations in full swing

San Francisco pride weekend includes the free festival at Civic Center Plaza, which featured several musical stages, food, and a first-ever cannabis zone.

Drag performer Siam Psusri said she moved to San Francisco from her native Thailand. 

"I moved here since I was 20, and now I'm 34. I pretty much learn a lot of things from the San Francisco community and I feel - be proud," she said. 

Like many groups, the California Civil Rights Department spread messages of love. The state agency has a new hotline to connect victims of discrimination and hate with resources and support. 

"I'd love for people, and especially young people to see a message from their government, from their state saying, you belong, no matter who you are, no matter who you love, that you have dignity," said director Kevin Kish. 

For longtime participants, the pride parade brings back poignant memories.

Vick Germany has been riding with Dykes on Bikes for nearly 30 years.

"It means that I get a chance to show how proud I am of being - sorry I'm going to choke up - of being a Dyke on a Bike. Several years ago, my mom would ride with me, she rode with me for almost nine years. She had Parkinson's, so eventually she got to the point where she could not ride," Germany said. 

On this day, Germany looked out and saw smiling faces of people of all ages waving rainbow flags. 

After the parade, official and unofficial festivities shifted to Civic Center Plaza, City Hall, and the Castro, where the celebrations continued throughout the evening.