Hundreds join ‘People’s March’ alternative to SF Pride parade

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — As San Francisco resumed its joyful Pride parade after a two-year pandemic hiatus, another event, blocks away, honored the spirit of the original Pride movement.

Most people are familiar with the Pride parade on San Francisco’s Market Street but, in 1970 — one year after the Stonewall riots — the precursor to Pride began with an angry protest march along Polk Street. On Sunday, several hundred people took part in the “People’s March,” an event that began during the pandemic following the murder of George Floyd.

“This is how it started,” said co-founder Juanita MORE! “We knew we had to, of course, get back in the streets and protest and we decided to do it here on Polk Street where the first Gay Liberation parade was.”

They decided to hold the People’s March at the same time as the Pride parade to offer an alternative for those who prefer the harder edge of protest over the happy vibe of a street party.

“You see all these people do not participate in the other parade because it’s a parade, it’s not a march and Pride is a protest,” said co-founder Alex U. Inn. “I think the Pride parade has lost their way. They started out with good intention and that was to emulate the gay liberation movement. Then money changes people left and right.”

Many of those in the People’s March objected to the rise of corporate participation in the Pride parade.  

“I think corporations are just kind of putting lipstick on a pig,” said Scott Vaughan-Bonterre. “Where they’re going to march but they don’t quite follow up with the due diligence of equality and raise all people up.”

The People’s March was led by people of color acknowledging those who don’t feel included, much as the gay-liberation protesters did on Polk Street 50 years ago.

“They have completely forgotten about this event and this historical pathway,” said community activist John Weber.  “Marching brings a reminder that folks who fought for this in 1968 and long before then were suffering the exact same things — the reasons why we’re marching today.”

Things are happening in the political arena that have many gay and non-gay people concerned about the future. Those who marched down Polk rather than Market Street on Sunday think the last thing that’s needed right now is a joyful celebration.

“They’ve lost their way totally,” said Alex U. Inn.  “We’re hoping to bring it back to neutral and reset and really have this — the People’s March — be for the people.”

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