Two weekends ago, I got to march with USF in San Francisco’s pride parade. The march route goes down Market Street, from Beale to 8th, lined by hundreds of spectators. Parade participants include several groups, from corporate sponsors to organizations like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who were marching behind us. It was energizing to see so many people gathered to celebrate and to see the diversity in the crowd. The celebration that I was able to join, as an ally, was not for me, but for the queer community. The space was intended for the LGBTQIA+ community to occupy, which I had to be mindful of, even at such a large event.
Pride, especially in SF, is an event that has entered the mainstream through the commercialization of the event. Corporate sponsors have a huge presence at the event, which is sometimes ironic. Some corporations show up and sponsor the March, but in some states, may not hire someone based on their sexual orientation. Currently, there are 28 states that have no employment non-discrimination law covering sexual orientation or gender identity. Statistics like this should serve as a reminder that there is a lot more to be accomplished. Although we may not be able to look at the government to make these changes right now, the same corporations that have used pride as a marketing tool have the leverage to enforce change on a larger scale.
The experience of marching in solidarity was a powerful first Pride experience. Beyond this one event, I hope to continue to think of my role as an ally, whether it be supporting friends and family members or to get involved with nonprofits and organizations that support the LGBTQIA+ community.