Myriad ways to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month in Bay Area

San Francisco's beloved Pride Parade, as seen here on June 24, 2018, has been canceled for the second year in a row amid ongoing concerns about the novel coronavirus. (Photo courtesy Nader Khouri)

Anybody who has ever spent more than an hour in the Bay Area knows — Pride is every day. The first official San Francisco Pride Parade was held in 1972, but this land we call home has always hosted a broad spectrum of gender and sexual identity.

The first inhabitants of what is now the San Francisco peninsula, the Ohlone, lived beyond the male/female gender dichotomy that was imposed first by the Spanish and later other European colonists. As the Gold Rush and Civil War induced migration all over the country, people from all walks of life flocked to the city for its financial opportunities and personal freedoms alike; the Barbary Coast neighborhood was home to numerous queer clubs and bars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries before Prohibition shut them down.

The Bay Area’s LGBTQ+ community has pioneered movements, resources and community endeavors that have reverberated across the country, from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to the first openly gay elected officials to the work of Dennis Peron in the legalization of medical marijuana.

While San Francisco’s epic annual parade is cancelled again this year, the community continues to influence and elevate the Bay Area’s artistic, educational and even industrial spaces, and the members deserve some hoopla. Last year’s Pride was largely confined to monitors and personal gatherings, but as numerous Bay Area counties transition into the yellow tier — allowing for indoor dining, movie-theater screenings and outdoor events, among other gatherings — organizers have struck the balance of safety and salaciousness to curate a whole month of celebration.

Sonoma County Pride 2021 (All month, various times and locations): “Beyond the Rainbow: Surviving, Reviving and Thriving” takes inspiration from “The Wizard of Oz” to celebrate the breadth of the queer experience in Sonoma County. They’ve packed the entire month of June with events, including a drive-thru parade, the Outwatch Annual Film Festival, drag shows and “Friends of Dorothy” community conversations.

The Sonoma County Pride Parade, as seen in Santa Rosa in 2019, will be different this year — with the audience driving through the parade in Rohnert Park, instead of the parade driving by the audience. (Photo courtesy Loren Hansen)

San Mateo County Pride (All month, various times and locations): Like its fellow counties, San Mateo is hosting its own month-long soiree of (virtual) Pride festivities, including workshops and performances. From 4-6 p.m. Friday, Donna Gary (they/them) and Lydia Huerta (she/her) will host a lavender graduation for queer students who haven’t been able to properly celebrate their graduation due to pandemic constraints. ( There are also plenty of recurring events, like Youth Group meetings on Tuesdays and Tai Chi on Fridays. There will also be workshops to handle topics like mental health and changing names and gender markers. A full calendar is available at:

Re-Storying the Ramayana: A Role-Playing Game (4-6 p.m. Thursday, virtual, free): Artist Anuj Vaidya and poet and performer Jessica Stokes reimagine a new, “queer/crip ecofeminist” ending for “Ramayana,” the story of the vulture Jatayu, mixing elements of stage performance, spoken-word poetry and role-playing games.

Mighty Reels: Pride Footage Through the Years (6-7:30 p.m. Friday, virtual, $5 suggested donation): Dive into 50 years of Bay Area queer history as historian and GLBT Historical Society founding member Gerard Koskovich leads a discussion surveying past Pride footage of shows, documentaries and interviews from the society’s archives.

“Beyond the Rainbow” Drive-Thru Parade (11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Graton Resort & Casino parking lot, 288 Golf Course Dr. W., Rohnert Park, $5 suggested donation): Rather than wait for a parade to roll past, attendees will be the ones in motion. Sonoma County Pride 2021 performers and parade floats will be stationary, while guests will “drive-thru” event to a streaming soundtrack.

Pride Movie Night at Oracle Park (6:30 p.m. June 11-12, Oracle Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, $19-$209): The planned Pride 2021 Expo has been cancelled, but you can still catch a flick with your loved one from behind third base. The San Francisco Giants have partnered with Frameline, a.k.a. San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival, to bring two nights of movie musicals: “In the Heights” and “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.” Ticket prices vary depending on seating.

Representatives of Sutter Health dance with rainbow flags at the 2019 Sonoma County Pride Parade in Santa Rosa. (Photo courtesy Loren Hansen)

Queens on Top Brunch (Noon June 13, Hotel Fairmont, 950 Mason St., San Francisco, $95): Have you ever been baptized by a nun with a smoky eye and platform heels? Sister Roma of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and her fellow drag performers, including Nicki Jizz and Militia, bring big hair and death drops to the Hotel Fairmont.

Panel discussion: “The Doodler: A Closer Look at the Story Behind the Podcast” (6-7:30 p.m. June 18, virtual, free): San Francisco Chronicle journalist and podcast host Kevin Fagan sits down with LGBTQ-rights activist and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano to discuss the horrible legacy of the Doodler, a 1970s serial killer who targeted the LGBTQ+ community and was said to have as many victims as the Zodiac Killer, but with much less coverage.

Black Liberation Event with AAACC (Tentatively scheduled for June 18): The Marsha P. Johnson Rally in 2020 was so successful, SF Pride has expanded for 2021 with a similar event at the African American Art & Culture Complex (AAACC) the eve of Juneteenth to demonstrate the overlap in the fight for both LGBTQ+ and racial justice. The event co-founders Melonie Green and Melorra Green will also serve as SF Pride 2021 Community Grand Marshals.

OUTAthletics: Pride Fit Fest 2021 (9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. June 20, Mission Bay Fields, 701 Mission Bay Blvd. N., San Francisco, $30): This day of exercise promises something for everyone, no matter your gender identity, sexual orientation or fitness level. Everything from yoga to CrossFit-style workouts to high-intensity interval training will be available at this event, which is a fundraiser for The OUT Foundation to support OUTAthlete scholarships for young LGBTQ+ adults who need access to safe and friendly fitness programs and gyms.

Oakland Black Pride (Various times and places, June 24-June 27): Oakland’s queer communities of color have been holding space for queer joy for decades, and the city is ready to host a mix of in-person and virtual events for 2021. Events at Oakland Black Pride will be spread over the course of a week, and includes virtual panels on food insecurity, a Twitch-streamed dance party and a queer pub crawl, among others.

Breaking Bread: A Benefit Dinner featuring Chef Nelson German and Chef LaLa Harrison (6-9 p.m. June 24, Sobre Mesa, 1618 Franklin St., Oakland, $250-$300): Treat yourself this Pride to a seven-course meal and cocktail pairing from two renowned chefs.

A marching band performs at the 2019 Sonoma County Pride Parade in Santa Rosa. (Photo courtesy Loren Hansen)

Pride 2021 Castro Pup Crawl (5-8:30 p.m. June 26, meet at the top of Castro and Market streets, San Francisco, at 4:50 p.m., free): Itching to let the dogs out? Bring your pooch to this COVID-conscious and sober-friendly gay-bar crawl, which will hit 440 (440 Castro St.), The Edge (4149 18th St.) and The Mix (4086 18th St.).

Pride Sunday with the Rev. Honorable Kimberly S. Jackson (11 a.m. June 27, virtual, free): Grace Cathedral will host a special service led by Rev. Honorable Kimberly S. Jackson, who has also served as a Georgia state senator, Episcopalian Priest, and Vicar. The service will be streamed online.

Juanita MORE! Pride 2021 (Noon-10:30 p.m. June 27, 620 Jones, 620 Jones St., San Francisco, $55): For 15 years, drag performer Juanita MORE! has hosted what is decidedly the best Pride party-slash-fundraiser in the Bay Area. This year is no exception, with proceeds benefitting the The San Francisco Queer Nightlife Fund. Negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination are required for entry.

Drag Me to The River: A Drag Brunch & Benefit for Sonoma County Pride (12:30 p.m. June 27, Grand Central Petaluma, 226 Weller St., Petaluma, $85-$145): Let brilliant Bay Area queens entertain you while you brunch on a prix fixe meal.

Mighty Real Pride Poolside Party (1-6 p.m. June 27, The Phoenix Hotel, 601 Eddy St., San Francisco, $40): Get your sunscreen. The Phoenix Hotel in San Francisco is hosting its annual pool party DJ’ed by David Harness, with additional musical guests Nina Sol, Jimmy DePre and Jeremy Rosebrook. A valid ID and proof of vaccination are required for entry.

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