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SAN FRANCISCO -- This weekend marks the "official" anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which helped launch the modern LGBT civil rights movement and why many of our pride celebrations began.
While celebrations of LGBT pride happen almost year-round with events like Phoenix Pride taking place in April and Palm Springs Pride each November, many major cities in the United States have historically commemorated that summer night in New York City 42 years ago, with events happening on the weekend closest to June 27.
This weekend, large Pride celebrations will be happening in a number of cities, including St. Louis, Seattle, Chicago, New York City and what is considered by many to be the "gay mecca of the world," San Francisco.
While all of these celebrations attract people from around the world, a number of San Diegans will make the trek up to the northern part of the state to partake in San Francisco's event, which is said to be one of the largest pride celebrations in the world.
This year, San Francisco Pride celebrates the LGBT community's future with the theme, "Stand Up for LGBT Youth!" Event organizers hope to take a stand against bullying at this year's celebration, noting the rash of high-profile suicides committed by LGBT youth in late 2010.
While over 30 official Pride events have taken place and will continue to occur throughout the month of June, the "main" events are this weekend's Pride Celebration and Parade.
San Francisco Pride, which is marking the 41st anniversary of its event this year, says that the city's celebration is "one of the last remaining Pride events that can truly be called a rite of passage."
San Diegan Josh Hollow agrees.
"I have never been to Pride in San Francisco before but all of my friends have told me that I absolutely must check it out," Hollow said. "We are heading up Friday afternoon and I hear that Pride in San Francisco is like no other. I can't wait!"
The two-day festival will take place Saturday, June 25, and Sunday, June 26, in downtown San Francisco at the Civic Center.
The event, centered around the historic City Hall building, stretches out many blocks with over 300 vendors and exhibitors, 19 stages and special venues. San Francisco Pride organizers say that the diverse line-up of exhibitors, artists, music, performers and dance venues offer something for everyone.
The main stage at San Francisco Pride has entertained thousands of people over the years, with past big-name entertainers like The Backstreet Boys, Lady Gaga, Kat Deluna and many others.
Among an array of entertainers this year will be a performance by popular comedienne and actress Sandra Bernhard, who will take the stage at 4:55 pm Sunday.
San Francisco Pride is unique in that it continues its commitment to making its celebration accessible to as many people as possible by not charging admission to its festival event.
However, to help fund the celebration, the organization hopes that participants who are able to do so will "Take a Stand For Pride" and donate generously into the buckets at the entrance gates. A minimum donation of $5 is requested.
Those who donate at least $5 at the entrance will be given a sticker to receive $1 discounts on beverages at the event throughout the day.
For more information about the two-day San Francisco Pride celebration, including maps and the entertainment line-up, click HERE.
Hundreds of thousands of people will line San Francisco's historic Market Street on Sunday to watch more than 200 mild-to-wild contingents pass by.
Kicking-off at 10:30 am, the parade starts on Market Street at Beale and proceeds west to Eighth Street.
The parade is known to be one of the more colorful ones in the nation, with many groups spending the entire year planning their presentation. The roar of 500 motorcycles will herald the start of the Pride Parade, a tradition that goes back many years.
With over 750,000 people expected in the area Sunday morning, revelers are encouraged to arrive early to ensure a good viewing spot along the route and utilize San Francisco’s efficient public transportation system.
Adding color and excitement along the parade route is the nearly 500 rainbow flags that are affixed each year to the light poles of Market Street.
Those who can’t make it up to San Francisco for the parade can watch it online at SF Pride Live starting at 10 am until the end of the parade.
For more information about the San Francisco Pride Parade, click HERE.
A changing organization
SF Weekly reports that after this year's celebration ends, the organization is going to experience some drastic changes.
As this year's celebration approached, the organization found that it was in debt to the tune of $160,000.
Interim Executive Director Brendan Behan has been charged with stopping San Francisco Pride's financial bleeding, "with a tourniquet if needed" while ensuring that this year's event happens, the weekly said.
There is no doubt that this year's celebration will happen -- San Diegans who have already made the trek up to San Francisco have reported (as of Friday morning) that the stages and venue areas have been built and everything looks on track for the weekend party.
But according to the SF Weekly report, the nonprofit organization that has produced the annual celebration for many years "is no longer viable" and both of San Francisco's openly gay supervisors have stated that Pride must be placed under new management.