SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — San Jose held its annual Pride Parade Sunday morning and what began as a people-oriented gathering has become a company event.
It started quietly as the fire engine pulled onto Market Street…there wasn’t even a siren. But that’s because Sunday’s parade wasn’t meant to force change but to show how much things have already changed.
“The people wanted to come out and show,” said Parade Coordinator Murray Wicks, “…and there was also a lot more corporate interest.”
The event changed its name from San Jose Pride to Silicon Valley Pride and the big tech firms, from Google to Oracle to Intel, were competing to show how inclusive they can be.
“It’s really good because it’s represented by all the big companies,” said spectator Barbara Sigala, “and I like that. I saw a lot of T-shirts, a lot of support.”
Protesters actually interrupted the San Francisco Pride Parade over corporate involvement, but in San Jose, they consider it a sign of progress that big companies are now proudly touting their diversity.
“But I don’t think corporations, until recently, really believed it,” said Wicks. “And I think they’re started to believe it because they realized a diverse workforce is a good workforce. Everyone’s fighting for talent, especially in this valley.”
With the Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting still fresh in people’s minds, there was a strong police presence and there were long lines at the Pride Festival as bags were checked and people were checked with metal-detecting wands. But the mood seemed to be one of resolution rather than fear.
“We are here to support people,” said a marcher calling herself “Smashley.”
“We’re not here to be scared; we’re not here to back away. We’re here to celebrate love and that’s what’s important to us.”
There was a general belief that the tide of public opinion has turned in favor of gay rights and diversity in general, and that the surge of violence in society is the last desperate act of people who cannot accept that the world has changed.
“If issues didn’t exist, there’d be no backlash,” said 15-year-old marcher Deepa Mahesh. “But since this issue now is so in the media, in Hollywood, in schools, everywhere, a lot more push back is going to be there. But people just have to keep fighting until we truly get equality.”
Sunday’s was the third year of the San Jose Pride Parade after it was halted for seven years due to lack of participation. Organizers say the tech companies have breathed new life into the event.