SF Pride — A First

McCarthy Fellow and recent USF graduate in Environmental Studies and Economics, Maximiliano Bernal Torres, authors this week’s blog with an account of his first time taking part in San Francisco’s Pride celebrations. Making the trip in between his internship at the California Environmental Protection Agency in Sacramento, Max reflects on the differences between Pride in San Francisco, and Pride in his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico.

I lived in San Francisco for 4 years while attending USF. However, I never had the opportunity to participate in any of the Pride festivities in the city for two main reasons. First, before living in San Francisco, I barely had the confidence to come out to a few friends, so Pride was always off limits. Secondly, as an international student, summer breaks are the few opportunities we get to go back home and see family. Thus, it wasn’t until this summer after graduation that I spent my first June in the US and consequently my first “Pride” in the city. This San Francisco Pride was not my first pride celebration ever. Exactly one year ago I had the opportunity to go to Pride in my hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico. However, the experiences were so different that they might as well have been different celebrations.

Pride Celebrations with my McCarthy Fellows cohort

The first main difference was how each city prepared and received Pride. San Francisco was loud and energetic in its preparation for the events, expecting around double of its population to flood into the city for just one weekend. There were rainbow flags in almost every building downtown and the streets were full of preparations for the parade.

During the parade, government representatives showed support for the event and any counterprotest was so small that people could laugh at it. On the other hand, Guadalajara could never compete in size and
power. Even if Guadalajara has more than 1.5 times the San Francisco’s population, Guadalajara’s pride had less than 1% of the city’s participation. The lack of participation is obviously not because of the lack of a substantive LGBT community size, but because the city and the country are way behind in political support for the community. Unlike San Francisco, Guadalajara has a hard time supporting LGBT rights. Important political and religious figures still slow down progress by criticizing Pride events
and by organizing countermarches. For instance, the yearly “Marcha por la Familia” which translates to “March for family” has been arguing that LGBT families are unnatural. Thus, with this imagery, it is not surprising that people do not feel comfortable “coming out” to the march.

Another major difference is how people attend the festivities. San Francisco’s Pride felt
mostly like a celebration. People showcased extravagant outfits (or lack of outfits) through the
streets and danced in the multiple music stages. Multiple businesses and organizations
showcased support by marching or by giving away merchandise. On the other hand,
Guadalajara’s Pride felt more like a protest. In fact, Guadalajara holds two different parades to
emphasize the fight. One march focuses on celebrating and one the other one on demanding
change from decision makers. Moreover, the small size of the event made it feel more like a
tight-knit community. There were also not as many businesses profiting out of the season.
However, there definitely not as many organizations showing the availability of services for the
community.

After SF Pride I have reflected a lot on what Pride is, and now, I have learned that Pride is
more than a big party for my community. Pride is a celebration of how far we have come but
also a protest trying to get us where we should be. Pride is a eulogy that remembers those who
made it possible for people like us to hold a rainbow flag on the streets and a moment to
educate ourselves and those around us about the privileges and challenges we face. Pride is all
of that and more. Pride is an opportunity to love. Love our friends, love our significant others,
love our community, but most importantly: love ourselves

To learn more abut McCarthy Fellows, go to our website. Read our other guest blog posts on USF in Pride

What Pride Means to Me

USF @ SF Pride 2015

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