Starting Line – The Spirit of Stonewall – Along with Some Actual Protests – to Highlight San Diego LGBT Pride Weekend

In case you haven’t heard, this is LGBT Pride weekend in San Diego. It’s a really big deal. The biggest event will be the Pride Parade, attracting a projected 250,000 spectators along its route, and lasting two hours. Starting off at the intersection of Normal & University (11am) it will proceed west on University to Sixth Avenue, turning south to Balboa Park. Literally hundred of groups will be participating in this year’s parade, and we’d like to bring your attention to two contingents in particular. Gay pride events around the country started out as acts of defiance and protests against discrimination, and this year’s event in San Diego has revived some of that original spirit, along with the social events and pageantry that are commonplace in modern day celebrations.

(Note: The San Diego Free Press will feature pictorial coverage of this year’s Pride Parade in a special posting on Sunday, July 22nd)  

Marching under the banner of ‘Join the Struggle, Not the Wars’, the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice will join the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality(SAME) and Canvass For A Cause(CFAC) at this year’s LGBT Pride Parade. Joining them will be the San Diego Green Party, UniteHere Local 30, the Peace Resource Center, the International Socialist Organization, and others . They are marching as an open contingent (#113) this year, and are inviting like minded folks and organizations to march with them. More info on Facebook.

While politicians of all stripes are part of the annual Pride Parade, Mayoral candidate/City Councilman Carl DeMaio’s participation (#81) has sparked plans for a protest and counter-protest.  A Facebook page entitled “Turn Your Back on Carl DeMaio” has attracted nearly 400 pledges to join in showing their disapproval of his participation. The candidate, who is openly gay, has attracted controversy because of his courting of and alliances with wealthy donors who underwrote an initiative banning Gay marriages in California. The list of donors and endorsers includes powerful right-wingers, such as local storage-industry multi-millionaire, Brian Caster, and former San Diego mayor and talk-radio host, Roger Hedgecock, as well as former judge Larry Stirling. San Diego City Beat revealed an email written about the campaign by anti-gay attorney Charles LiMandri that many in the Gay community cite as proof that DeMaio is selling them out:

City Councilman Carl DeMaio’s mayoral campaign says DeMaio “ … specifically promised me, as a condition of my support, that he would not push the gay agenda issues (including same-sex marriage) as did Mayor Sanders. Rather, he was emphatic with me that he did not believe that the mayor should concern himself with these issues as they are not his responsibility.”

 It has also been pointed out that, while DeMaio will walk in the Pride parade, it’s unlikely that his partner, SDGLN publisher Johnathan Hale, will be marching with him. Activists say that DeMaio has avoided any photo opportunities with Hale because local anti-LGBT forces in San Diego would not be pleased if they were shown in the UT-San Diego marching together.

Meanwhile, at, Hale has published a “Letter to the Community” inviting would-be supporters in for a champagne reception, asking them to join Carl and other supporters in the Pride Parade. He asserts that DeMaio’s hasn’t sold out the gay community by accepting monies from Proposition 8 supporters and says San Diegans should be proud of his ‘historic’ campaign for San Diego mayor.

America‘s Pride” is the festival’s theme for 2012, celebrating the end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The parade will honor the armed services and feature a number of military groups. Confusion about whether service members would be allowed to march in the parade in uniform ended yesterday when Rene Bardorf, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Community and Public Outreach released astatement:

  “Based on our current knowledge of the event and current policies, we hereby are granting approval for service members in uniform to participate in this year’s parade, provided service members 1) participate in their personal capacity, and 2) ensure the adherence to Military Service standards of appearance and wear of the uniform.” 

Festival organizers say that many gays in the military were afraid to attend the festival in past years for fear of being identified, so in keeping with this year’s theme and yesterday’s announcement, they’re expecting a big turnout of servicemen.

Nicole Murray-Ramirez in 1974

Columnist Nicole Murray Ramirez writes about the origins of San Diego’s Pride movement in a current edition of the LGBT Weekly:

So in 1974, Jess Jessop, Atty. Tom Hommon (both who died of AIDS) and I went to the San Diego Police Department (I was in drag as I was then a pre-operative transsexual.) The Police Department refused to give us a permit and said, “There will never be a homosexual pervert’s march in downtown San Diego.”

 It wasn’t ‘til 1976 that homosexual acts were legal in California. So we didn’t care and marched anyway, and it was our first Pride march with about 200 participants. Our first marches found people marching with paper bags over their faces: “the unknown gays.”

 The major organizations first participating in our early 1970s marches were the MCC (Metropolitan Community Church), Imperial Court, The Center and , Dignity. The bars and Imperial Court shows raised the money to put on our first Pride events along with both houseowners and adult businesses.

 We marched from downtown to Balboa Park and I was a speaker at our first rally in1975 along with Rev. David Ferral, George Raya, Barbara Gittings and Alan Spear among others

.In the 1970s the police were very hostile to us during our parades, barely anyone lined the streets (most sidewalks were empty of people) and a lot of people and military did shout and curse at us along the march route. These were the days of Anita Bryant and John Brigg’s anti-homosexual hate campaigns. As a proud co-founder of San Diego Pride, I have lived to see us grow from 200 marchers in 1974to almost 200,000 participants in 2012. We have come a long way and stand on the shoulders of many who are no longer with us. I’m blessed to still be alive to witness the growth, strength, political power of not only my GLBT community, but my Latino community. Viva Pride!

 Pride weekend will officially kick off Friday night, with a ‘Spirit of Stonewall Rally’, remembering the events of June 28, 1969, when customers of New York City’s Stonewall Inn fought back against police harassment. That act of defiance marked the start of annual events in cities around the world.

The Friday night rally, organizers are saying, is a call to re-energize the Spirit of Stonewall and focus energy on the next generation of the LGBT movement and activism. Dr. Clarence B. Jones, formerly personal legal counsel to the late Martin Luther King, Jr., will be this year’s keynote speaker. Among his many accomplishments was his assistance in drafting the acclaimed “I Have a Dream” speech given by Dr. King on August 28, 1963, in which he called for racial equality and an end to discrimination. That oratory, given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement.

The event will also take time out to acknowledge individuals who have become known for their efforts to protect gay rights, support for recognition of equal marriage rights, endeavors to insure that military men and women can serve their country without fear of reprisal and leadership in creating a safe environment in schools for young people.  The grand finale of the evening will be the raising of the Pride Flag on the new 65’ tall Hillcrest Pride Flagpole. The rally starts at 6pm Friday at the intersection of the (newly renamed) Harvey Milk and Normal Streets.

The two day Pride Festival will kick off Saturday in Balboa Park, starting at noon. Multiple stages will feature more than 80 musicians, bands, along with comedy and dance performers. Three hundred vendor booths will be set up, showcasing everything from area foods to arts a& crafts. The Festival will also run all day Sunday.

For more information about San Diego LGBT Pride events, go to

On This DayIn 1881 Sioux leader Sitting Bull, a fugitive since the Battle of the Little Big Horn, surrendered to federal troops. In 1965 Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” was released. In 1969 Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr. became the first men to walk on the moon.

Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Borrego Springs  (Christmas Circle Community Park Christmas Circle & Palm Canyon Dr.) 7 am – noon, Fallbrook (102 S. Main, at Alvarado) 10 am – 2 pm, Imperial Beach  (Seacoast Dr. at Pier Plaza) 2 – 7:30 pm, Kearny Mesa (No. Island Credit Union pkg lot  5898 Copley) 10:30 am – 1:30 pm, La Mesa Village  (Corner of Spring St. and University) 2 – 6 pm, Rancho Bernardo (Bernardo Winery parking lot 13330 Paseo del Verano Norte) 9 am – noon, Southeast San Diego (4981 Market St. West of Euclid Ave. Trolley Station) 2 – 6 pm

Get a life: After an eight year hiatusthe Golden Hill Street Fair is being revived on Sunday, July 22nd from 11am to 6pm on 25th Street between B St. and C St.  The event is free and open to all ages. For more information, go here.

I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org 


Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He's won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
Subscribe to "The Starting Line" and get an email every time a new article is posted!


  1. avatarLa Playa Heritage says

    The Bob Filner for Mayor Team will be meeting at the Hillcrest DMV, 3960 Normal St. (between Harvey Milk St. and Lincoln Ave) by 10:30am. We are float #63 in the parade and will be walking with the San Diego Democrats for Equality. Parking is going to be difficult to find so arrive early!!