SF Pride Celebrates in Defiance of Attacks on Reproductive, Trans Rights

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Drag queen Snaxx holds a sign that reads 'Abortion is Healthcare' on the SF Oasis float during the San Francisco Pride Parade on June 26, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

Although it became clear that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade when its draft opinion leaked in May, the advance notice didn’t make it easier to accept when the decision landed. We’ve entered a new, less free reality: Abortion is now banned in 10 states, and five more will ban it within the month. Furthermore, a section in the Supreme Court’s majority opinion prompted fears about the rollback of other civil rights, including marriage equality.

Palpable grief and anger swept the Bay Area on Friday as San Francisco headed into Pride weekend. But LGBTQ+ people didn’t cower in fear—they celebrated in defiance.

Participants in the San Francisco Dyke March holds a sign that says, 'Give us our Voices, Bodies, Rights Back' on June 25, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
The Trans March makes its way along Market Street to a rally on Turk and Taylor in San Francisco on June 24, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

As thousands of people joined the Trans March at Dolores Park on June 24, the day the ruling came down, a queer and trans drum ensemble kept a steady beat while the crowd chanted, “When our community is under attack, what do we do / Rise up, fight back!” Though Roe is technically dead, and numerous states are legislating against trans healthcare and other rights, the Trans March didn’t feel like a funeral procession. Instead, it became a ritual transmuting rage into collective power and offering a prayer for the next generation.

As the march made its way downtown on Market Street, a girl who looked no older than 10 led a chant of “Hey hey, ho ho, transphobia has got to go.” As the Trans March converged with several abortion rights protests happening at the same time, there was a groundswell of energy as people chanted, “Reproductive and trans rights / One struggle, one fight!

Drummers amp up protesters during the Trans March.
The Trans March makes its way along Market Street to a rally on Turk and Taylor in San Francisco on June 24, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
A young girl leads a chant at the Trans March.
The Trans March makes its way along Market Street to a rally on Turk and Taylor in San Francisco on June 24, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

The march landed on the corner of Turk and Taylor Streets, arguably the birthplace of radical queer resistance in the Bay Area. Here, in 1966, trans women and drag queens rioted against police brutality at the now infamous Compton’s Cafeteria—three years before Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson and others did the same at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, kicking off the modern-day gay rights movement in 1969.

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At Turk and Taylor, DJs played from a sound system aboard a school bus, and speakers included sex workers and socialist organizers. Everywhere you looked were baby pink and baby blue, the trans colors; and black, yellow and purple, the colors of the nonbinary flag. People of different gender expressions, ethnicities, class backgrounds and ages danced together to house music. By simply showing up as themselves, attendees affirmed that there’s no single, correct way to be trans—or any gender identity.

Jupiter Peraza from the Transgender District and Honey Mahogany speak during the Trans March in San Francisco on June 24, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Participants in the Trans March fill Market Street in San Francisco on June 24, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

While every few people at the trans march held protest signs, the Dyke March—which also took off from Dolores Park on Saturday, June 25—mostly made a political statement by way of joy, and making people feel seen and heard.

“Being together helps us heal,” an attendee told me as the march made its way back from the Castro. The women of the Dyke March cheered and waved to the people partying on their porches and playing disco in their front yards. After the march ended, everyone dispersed into Dolores Park, where hundreds of LGBTQ+ friend groups picnicked, drank and danced.

Participants in the San Francisco Dyke March make their way through the Mission District on June 25, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
The San Francisco Dyke March fills Castro Street on June 25, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Stacy Poulos rides her Harley with Emily Burton on the back during the San Francisco Dyke March on June 25, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

At the big SF Pride parade on Sunday, June 26, social justice messages bubbled up amid the corporate-sponsored floats, politicians in convertibles, and typical characters like nudists and furries. Although the Pride organization agreed to have uniformed police officers march (after initially banning them from the parade due to the history of police abuse against LGTBQ+ people), people marching alongside the San Francisco Public Defender’s office carried signs with abolitionist slogans. And DJ Black, one of the community Grand Marshals—or as she calls it, Grand Marshas—pulled up in a truck with signs like “Abort the Court” and “Housing for All.”

At the celebration at Civic Center afterwards, San Francisco singer La Doña led the crowd in a chant of “fuck the court,” and the audience happily obliged while dancing to cumbia, hyphy and salsa music.

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There’s a long fight ahead for those who believe in gender equality, bodily autonomy and reproductive rights. Pride provided a much-needed collective exhale, a gathering of strength through fun and community, as this new battle begins.

The San Francisco Dyke March makes its way through the Mission to the Castro District on June 25, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
A woman holds a protest sign that reads "Separation of church and state."
The Trans March merged with an abortion rights rally in San Francisco on June 24, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Members of the Righteously Outrageous Twiring Corps perform during the San Francisco Pride Parade on June 26, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Anna Sopko waves from a window as the San Francisco Dyke March passes by on June 25, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Drag queens Nicki Jizz, Heaven on Earth and Snaxx dance on the Oasis SF float during the San Francisco Pride Parade on June 26, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Participants fill Market Street during the San Francisco Pride Parade on June 26, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Kai'lee Luckey (left) and Kaleonna Vang, both visiting from Sacramento, watch the San Francisco Pride Parade on June 26, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Spectators line Market Street while cheering on participants at the San Francisco Pride Parade on June 26, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
Members of the University of California, Berkeley contingent cheer during the San Francisco Pride Parade on June 26, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)
A group of samba dancers and drummers participate in the Pride Parade on Market Street in San Francisco on June 26, 2022. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)