San Diego Pride parade caps weekend LGBT events

More than 240 LGBTQ organizations, schools, churches, businesses, government agencies and elected officials were gearing up in every color of the rainbow Saturday morning in preparation for the San Diego Pride Parade, which got under way just before 11 a.m.



Annually one of the largest Pride celebrations in the country, this year's parade was expected to draw a crowd of close to 200,000 along its 1.1- mile route starting at the Hillcrest Pride Flag, proceeding west on University Avenue, turning south on Sixth Avenue, left on Balboa Drive and ending at Quince Drive.

The parade caps two days of celebrations and festivities that began at 5 p.m. Friday with the official Pride Block Party and the Spirit of Stonewall Rally. The rally honored the 1969 Stonewall riots that are largely credited with sparking the modern gay-rights movement, when patrons of New York City's Stonewall Inn rioted in the face of police harassment.

Pride celebrations continued Saturday morning with the Pride 5K as crowds began lining University Avenue in Hillcrest in anticipation of the parade.

The parade will include a motorcycle contingent, a youth marching band made up of high school band members and, for the seventh straight year, a military contingent. In 2011, San Diego Pride became the first pride parade in the nation to feature a contingent specifically for service members and veterans.

Helping to lead this year's parade are Delores A. Jacobs, the longest- serving chief executive officer of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, who was honored at Friday's Spirit of Stonewall Rally with the Champion of Pride award; Susan Jester, a longtime LGBTQ activist who was named a Community Grand Marshal at Friday's rally; and Russell Roybal, the deputy executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, who was also named a Community Grand Marshal.

The theme of this year's parade is "Allied in Action: United for Justice." But this year, not everyone feels as if San Diego Pride is truly allied or united. Reverend Shane Harris, the chapter director of the National Action Network San Diego, will boycott Saturday's Pride Parade "due to a lack of African-American LGBTQ issues" being addressed by San Diego Pride, he announced Saturday.