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San Francisco’s Pride celebration was in full swing as a sea of tens of thousands of revelers filled Dolores Park and the surrounding area on a balmy, 75-degree Saturday afternoon.

Sea of celebrators at Dolores Park as San Francisco’s Pride celebration in full swing. Photo by Mallory Newman.

At 5 p.m. Saturday, San Francisco Dyke March kicked off from 18th and Dolores Streets. Organizers say on their website that this march is a call to action.

“We’re calling all dykes. Each and every one of you — to take up your space and hold it close to you as we hold on for our lives. As we hold on to each other.”

For this year’s Pride-goers, it seems there’s more at stake, as many in the community feel they’ve come under fire from the current administration.

Malachi Lee (right), attends Pride to support his partner Kristin Thomas (left), who identifies as queer. Photo by Mallory Newman.

Malachi Lee, 36, attends Pride to support his partner Kristin Thomas, 36, who identifies as queer.

“Pride, to me, means freedom. Freedom of expression, freedom to be a human being, freedom to love,” he says.

“It’s important right now because we live in an environment where we’re caging children — an environment of separatism, classism, racism. We can grow as a community together no matter our gender, race, or how we express ourselves,” Lee adds.

Krystale Ramirez (left) and Alisha Cannon (right) enjoy the shade. Photo by Mallory Newman.

Others feel that Pride has lost its authenticity. “I hate SF Pride,” says Alisha Cannon. “The only reason I’m here is to support a friend who is coming out as trans tonight.”

This is Cannon’s fifth Pride, and they feel that every year it gets bigger and more commercial.

“They’re so many straight people who come to party, but don’t do the hard work of advocacy and calling out family members when the party’s over,” they say. “It’s a capitalist opportunity to put a rainbow on stuff so people buy it. And it works, because I’m gonna buy it!”  

Their companion, Krystale Ramirez, agrees: “It sucks what it’s turned into, but I’m here because I want to party with queer people and you won’t see this many queer people in one place like this outside of Pride. I’m here for the ladies.”

Enthusiastic Pride celebrator poses with SFPD officers in Dolores Park. Photo by Mallory Newman.

For many of the attendees, Pride is an opportunity to feel safe and be surrounded by community.

RJ Hulsey (left) and Nay Hulsey (right). Nay is sisters with RJ, who brought her wife from Idaho to their first Pride. Photo by Mallory Newman.

“I’m here with my sister from Idaho, who brought her wife — it’s their first time,” says Nay Hulsey about sister, RJ Hulsey.

“I do my best to do that all year around and not just at Pride. Pride is just being in public all the time as yourself and being proud,” they say.

Update, 7 p.m.:  The Dyke March was in full swing, bringing thousands to join in the procession that started right at 18th and Mission. It was led by a group motorcyclists cruising behind a police escort, followed by thousands of others. There were signs, chants, dancing — and even a wedding proposal — as the Dyke March headed North on Valencia, then along 16th Street towards Market and then took a swing by the Castro until it returned to Dolores Park.

Motorcyclists led the beginning of the Dyke March on Saturday. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

An onlooker waved a rainbow flag from his window in the Mission District. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

A woman joined in a Brazilian dance team on Saturday’s Dyke March. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Margaret Mota, on the ladder, waves rainbow colored lays as Margarita Lora waves at the Dyke March on Saturday. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Onlookers throwing beads from their third story window. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Kelli Sager holding up a sign during the Dyke March. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Several marchers at the Dyke March yelled in support for Trans groups. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Deanna Dawn and DivaD cheer onlookers at Saturday’s Dyke March. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

A band welcomed the entire Dyke March to the Castro on Saturday. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Thousands of people at the Dyke March. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Kate Mary, who lives off of 18th Street in the Castro, blew bubbles towards people in the 2018 Dyke March. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Devon Sarabia has been going to Pride for almost nine years. A San Jose resident, Sarabia says the entire atmosphere and vibe of the park makes her feel at home and accepted.

“I missed last year, but normally I’ve been coming since I was 17,” she said.

She said her boss, a DJ, is playing at the Chapel and she planned attending an afterparty and a cruise ship party.

Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Hanz De Guzman, left, has attended Pride for the past few years. He’s been a San Francisco resident since 1993.

“I didn’t used to go until the last five years; we tried to avoid it,” De Guzman said.

Nowadays, he shows up early to save his place in Dolores Park. Today he arrived at 1 p.m. to reserve a spot underneath palm trees. It was prime real estate as people crammed themselves under the generous shade. De Guzman loved that he had to get used to the tight constraints of the park on Saturday; it forced him to meet new people and make new friends.

Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Constance Smith, left, flew in from Texas to experience the Pride weekend. She was previously living in a small town in Oregon, where the queer scene wasn’t as big as it is in  San Francisco. Even the Dallas scene doesn’t compare.

“I wanted to get back to the big city,” she said.

Phillip Whitfield, middle, who identifies as non-binary, said he had been exposed to it by his mother, who identifies as queer. He was showing his friend Constance and Hanna Walters (right) around San Francisco. Both Walters and Whitfield live in the city.

Kahuong Lam brought had a show-stopping dress at Pride. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Update, 8 p.m.:

Marchers returned to Dolores Park, where the party continued. Locals and tourists alike were in high spirits, and attendees were all smiles as they basked in the fading sun and the sense of community that Pride creates.

Zayn (left) and Landyn (right) attend the San Francisco Pride celebration in Dolores Park after the Dyke March. Photo by Mallory Newman.

San Francisco Pride attendees celebrate at Dolores Park after the Dyke March. Photo by Mallory Newman.

Veronica Olson (left) and Brittany Juhlmann (right) attend the San Francisco Pride celebration in Dolores Park after the Dyke March. Photo by Mallory Newman.

Uriel Pacheco attends the San Francisco Pride celebration in Dolores Park after the Dyke March. Photo by Mallory Newman.

Linci Comy attends the San Francisco Pride celebration in Dolores Park after the Dyke March. Photo by Mallory Newman.

Linci Comy remembers the Pride celebrations of the past. “I’ve been coming to Pride for decades, since the ’70s,” she said. “The biggest difference now is that we’re not as drunk as we used to be. During the AIDS epidemic, we spent Pride forgetting all of our pain. Now we’re celebrating a lot more.”

Tobias Schmead attends the San Francisco Pride celebration in Dolores Park after the Dyke March. Photo by Mallory Newman.

M. Rocket attends the San Francisco Pride celebration in Dolores Park after the Dyke March. Photo by Mallory Newman.

As a 20-year San Francisco resident, M. Rocket sees, “more crowds now and more dudebros here, just taking up space.”

Pride attendees celebrate in Dolores Park after the Dyke March. Photo by Mallory Newman.

Carlo Epps attends the San Francisco Pride celebration in Dolores Park after the Dyke March. Photo by Mallory Newman.

Erica Carig (left), Carissa Singh (center), and Dolce Aviles (right) attend the San Francisco Pride celebration in Dolores Park after the Dyke March. Photo by Mallory Newman.

While the day is one for celebration, attendees recalled the origins of the event. “Well, this all started with a riot,” Singh said. “We’re out here to protect the rights we fought for and defend love and community, especially with the current administration.”

Carig added, “Visibility is important. It’s very important for us to be out here making a big presence to show we’re still here. We’re still part of an underrepresented community, aside from all the sponsors and advertisers.”

Patrick Hunt attends the San Francisco Pride celebration in Dolores Park after the Dyke March. Photo by Mallory Newman.

San Francisco Pride attendees celebrate at Dolores Park after the Dyke March. Photo by Mallory Newman.

The sun sets on Dolores Park during the San Francisco Pride celebration after the Dyke March. Photo by Mallory Newman.

As the sun set on Dolores Park, droves of partiers poured out of the park and into the nearby streets and businesses. At Ali Baba’s Cave on Valencia and 19th Streets, the line was non-stop starting at 1 p.m., and staff didn’t anticipate it dying down until they closed at 11. “This is the best day of the year for us and we look forward to it,” said staff member Lena Dawah. “Small businesses like us need this.”

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