SF Pride Is Canceled, Other Mass Gatherings Still Far Off

People march during the San Francisco gay pride parade in San Francisco, California on June, 24, 2018. (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

San Francisco Pride, the world’s most prominent LGBTQ+ celebration, is canceled this year as California continues to shelter in place to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The annual June gathering evolved from a commemoration of the 1969 uprising against police brutality at New York’s Stonewall Inn to a celebration that draws hundreds of thousands of revelers to downtown San Francisco. Over the years, Pride has become a cornerstone of the city’s tourism and hospitality industries and a huge bolster for local LGBTQ+ nonprofits.

“We know Pride is not just historically essential but also important to the livelihoods of so many local people and businesses,” Executive Director Fred Lopez told 48 Hills. “The people who come to Pride stay in our hotels, drink at our bars, dance at our nightclubs, visit our museums. It’s a true citywide event, so it took us time to really figure out what we needed to do and the right way to do it.”

SF Pride, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, chose to cancel instead of postpone the 2020 parade for financial reasons, but will be taking some festivities online as part of the worldwide Global Pride livestream. In the 48 Hills interview, Lopez touted the community’s resilience and pointed to the SF Queer Nightlife Fund, a grassroots relief program for local LGBTQ+ entertainers and nightlife workers.

The announcement came just as Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered live-streamed remarks Tuesday afternoon on the state’s latest efforts to combat the coronavirus by strengthening public health infrastructure and continuing physical distancing practices.

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After outlining six key indicators that the state will consider before it begins to loosen shelter-in-place restrictions—a timeline for which is still weeks away—Newsom said that large-scale mass gatherings will be highly unlikely until there is a COVID-19 vaccine.

“The prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine,” Newsom said. “Large-scale events that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers all together across every conceivable difference, health and otherwise, is not in the cards based upon our current guidelines and current expectations.”

Newsom painted a picture of a drastically changed public life once restrictions are loosened. Temperature checks could become commonplace before entering public places, as would masks and physical distancing measures at eateries and schools.

GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi, the world’s two largest vaccine companies, estimate that a vaccine will not be available until the second half of 2021.