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San Diego Pride kicked off the weekend events with a parade and festival | Pro Club Bd

As San Diego Pride week continues, thousands of residents attended the return of the annual in-person Pride Parade and Festival at Balboa Park on Saturday.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria marched in the parade, which began at 10 a.m. in front of the Hillcrest Pride Flag at 1500 University Ave. Gloria is the first openly LGBTQ person to be elected Mayor of San Diego.

“Pride brings us together in times of protest, mourning, victory and celebration,” said Fernando Lopez, executive director of San Diego Pride. “Pride helps us connect to the community and to our found family. Pride provides us with access to life-saving direct services and provides grants to our local and global LGBTQ community.

“I’m inspired by the thought of our community coming together again,” he continued. “Together we will continue to joyfully seek justice.”

The weekend events began at 8:00 a.m. Saturday with the San Diego Pride 5k Walk/Run, which began at the corner of Center and University Avenues in Hillcrest. Last year, despite the pandemic, more than 1,300 runners and walkers from around the world took part, raising $24,000 for SD Pride’s charity partners.

San Diego’s Pride’s Parade and Festival is the fourth-largest event of its kind in the United States, organizers said, and hosted more than 350,000 visitors in 2019. Past festivals have featured headliners like Kesha, TLC, Melissa Etheridge and En Vogue.

In 2020, San Diego Pride hosted the first ever Pride Live, which drew 400,000 people to celebrate the LGBTQ community. In 2021, San Diego Pride hosted over 40 hybrid virtual and in-person events with more than 100,000 participants throughout Pride week.

Since its inception, San Diego Pride has returned over $3 million to the local and international LGBTQ+ community from proceeds from its annual events.

“LGBTQ diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of our efforts to invite people to our vibrant city because when people feel welcome, they want to visit,” said Julie Coker, President and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority. “That’s why we’re so excited that San Diego Pride will return in 2022. It will underscore our friendly, inclusive spirit, attract visitors to our hotels, restaurants and cultural attractions, and boost our local tourism economy.”

The parade ends on Laurel Street, where the entrance to the Pride Festival is. The two-day festival kicks off at 11am in Balboa Park with live music on four stages including Ashnikko, Baby Tate, Daya and Snow Tha Product.

The full lineup consists of more than 100 LGBTQ+ entertainers, according to the organizers.

“Our goal for this year’s Pride Festival is to primarily showcase our extremely talented local LGBTQ community,” said Lopez. “We are thrilled to reunite for our first in-person Pride Festival in three years, where our artists and entertainers will help us be seen and heard, find family, raise funds, build capacity and create space for us all creating uncompromisingly our true, authentic selves.”

The 2022 San Diego Pride Festival and related events are taking place this weekend amid a rise in public health and safety concerns.

The festival also includes educational and art exhibits, vendors, interactive cultural presentations, local food, HIV testing, children’s and youth sections and more.

“We’re still fighting for justice and that takes away our joy,” said Mila Jam, one of Saturday’s performers and an advocate for black and transgender people. “We need each other now more than ever to stay strong and get through liberation.”

The San Diego Public Library will also be joining in the fun by issuing a limited edition library card with a design created by Crawford High School student Leslie Pagel. It features an illustration by Marsha Johnson in front of the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Johnson was a gay and trans rights activist and one of the prominent figures in the 1969 Stonewall uprising.

“I wanted to honor her and her work for the community,” Pagel said. “She lived at a time when trans people were badly misunderstood, but they were the ones who carried much of the community’s liberation struggle.”

The library will have a booth at the Pride Festival. For more information, see www.sandiego.gov/public-library/lgbt.

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