Sunday, June 26, 2016
Your Human Rights Sponsored By...
Returning books to the Main Library on Saturday morning, I walked through preparations for the annual, weekend-long Gay Pride Festival in Civic Center where the Asian Art Museum had installed new signage for the occasion.
On the various stages scattered around the plaza, sound checks were being made on speakers and microphones, allowing for odd bursts of sound mingling in a Charles Ives kind of way.
The dirty little secret of the Gay Pride Festival in San Francisco is how much money is involved, particularly in selling crappy, overpriced cocktails all day from booths devoted to "charity."
In front of the library were a pair of booths that scraped some kind of low, hawking $9 Bud Lights and McDonald's corporate swag...
...including an astonishingly ugly T-shirt that urged one to Celebrate Lovin'.
The controversial new metal detectors were set up at the entrance to the plaza at Grove and Market, and in truth they are welcome. In recent years, the festival has become a magnet for young, mostly straight suburbanites looking for a free party in San Francisco, and the combination of alcohol and weapons has contributed to more than a few violent altercations, with bystanders caught in the crossfire.
The metal detection staff were mostly young and black, which is probably not what this year's slogan "For Racial and Economic Justice" was referring to, but it was nice to see this usually unemployed demographic being offered jobs. Meanwhile, the promised enhanced police presence seemed to consist of herds of 20-30 uniformed police officers wandering about Civic Center looking foolish, as if they were afraid of being attacked unless they stayed together as gangs. The Black Lives Matter group, which had been given an honored spot in Sunday's parade, pulled out at the last minute in protest, saying they were more afraid of the heavyhanded police presence than terrorists, and it's hard to blame them.