SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — In San Francisco’s Castro District, the 50th Pride celebration was supposed to be one big party. Then the world changed.
Castro Street is usually hopping on Pride Weekend but, this year, it’s quiet with many local restaurants and bars closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sandra Campos and Janette Reyes were married four years ago when the mood in the Castro was jubilant.
“I just feel like the whole virus thing just, like, killed the spirits of everything going on, really,” Campos said.
The landmark Twin Peaks Tavern is boarded up. Thomas Athanasion has been here for decades and says, 50 years ago, it was also boarded up to protect it from homophobic attacks.
“In the ’70s, the movement was happening and it was marches, it wasn’t a giant parade,” said Athanasion. “And it’s all falling back to that same process with the Black Lives Matter movement.”
There will be no parade this year, replaced by an online video celebration that aired Saturday morning. Also, the familiar pink canvas triangle on Twin Peaks has been replaced by 2,500 LEDs that will light up at night. Saturday afternoon, a new tradition was born: an Olympic-style torch was marched from Oakland city hall to San Francisco to symbolize the healing of a sometimes contentious relationship between the LGBT and African American communities.
“This symbolic uniting of the Bay Area is hopefully a step forward, away from that, toward a united community,” said Oakland gay-rights activist Joe Hawkins as he began his march.
“That’s my wish,” said Athanasion, “that 20 years from now I can still be here, remember and reflect on what happened in 2020 and go ‘we did the right thing!'”