It's one of the largest and most colourful Pride festivals in the world, and it's happening this weekend, so brace yourself. 2012 marks the 42nd anniversary of the San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade, featuring 300 exhibitors, 200-odd parade contingents and more than twenty community-run venues and stages. The two-day event takes place in Civic Center Plaza in downtown San Francisco, with Sunday morning's parade heading out from Beale Street, along Market Street and finishing up at Market and 8th St.
This year's theme is 'Global Equality', with the stated aim of raising awareness of the plight of LGBT communities in the 76 countries where they are currently criminalized. With San Francisco's lengthy history of supporting gay rights, the city's Pride events are always well-organised, hugely popular and enormous fun.
The Pride Celebrations
Gay Pride in San Francisco revolves around an entire weekend of parties, concerts, gatherings and other celebrations. Other than the parade itself, the most high-profile events take place at the main stage in front of City Hall, where a full line-up of talent will be entertaining the crowds on both days.
Other fantastic community stages include the Faerie Freedom Village; a home for avant-garde artists, shamans and radical DJs to share their 'oasis of spirituality', along with the ever-popular Homo Hip Hop Stage featuring a wealth of talented local DJs.
Also with their own venues are the free-spirited Sundance Country-Western Dance Corrall; a non-profit organization who promote country and western dancing in the gay and lesbian community, the high-energy Tantra Trance Stage for energetic Pride-goers with a love of NRG and break beats, and the Ghetto Disco Community Dance Arena for those in search of a riotous boogie.
Check out this list for a full run-down of all the official events taking place over the weekend.
The Pride Parade
As ever, the Dykes on Bikes will be kicking things off at 10.30 a.m on Sunday with a collective revving of engines and impressive display of chrome, followed by more than 200 floats and contingents from participant groups running the gamut of Bay Area society, from grass-roots organisations to huge corporates, state senators to the city mayor, schools, churches and government departments, not to mention our friends at Virgin America, one of the events major sponsors.
Some of the most flamboyant and artistic participants to look out for include the Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps, Balloon Magic, the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, and the people and hounds of the Muttville Senior Dog Rescue crew. A line-up of all 200 parade contingents is available here along with a parade route map.
A $5 dollar contribution is requested for entrance to the SF Pride celebrations. For full details of ticketed options such as grandstand seats for the parade or entrance to the official SF Pride VIP Party, please visit sfpride.org.
Virgin Atlantic operates flights to San Francisco from London Heathrow.
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.