By John Ramos

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — On Pride Sunday, San Francisco usually plays host to the Pride Parade, a raucous, colorful march up Market Street, celebrating the city’s LGBT community but the pandemic canceled the event for the second straight year. Still, there are those who are using the time to reflect on the greater meaning of Pride — beyond just the party.

There may not have been a parade but people did gather on Castro Street this Sunday.

“Pride this year is back to the basics — of bringing people together in solidarity and knowing that we’re not alone and that there’s other people like us,” said San Francisco resident Michael Kerner.

That was important to him and his partner Kevin Zhou. They said that, beyond the glitz and color of the parade, its most important function is as a show of support for those struggling with their identity.

“There are young people who don’t know this exists yet and they need that support and they need that identification that they’re going to be OK,” Kerner said.

Across town at the Chase Center Arena, the Golden State Warriors hosted a Pride speakers panel that featured Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon, the first openly-gay athlete to compete for the United States. To him, Pride is about people having the courage to be themselves.

“I am so grateful for all of the athletes that share their story because that kind of representation is so important,” he said. “It wasn’t around when I was growing up and it would have completely changed my whole world.”

Another speaker, lesbian rights activist Imani Rupert-Gordon, reminded the audience that modern Pride celebrations actually grew out of the 1969 Stonewall riots protesting a violent police raid of a gay bar in New York. She said there are still threats to the rights of LGBT people, including in various state legislatures where hundreds of bills targeting transgender youth are currently being proposed. For her, Pride is about taking action.

“Pride started as an uprising and so we can’t forget that, even though we have a beautiful flag, that we have a lot of support of elected officials, this is a time for us to think about what’s next, that there’s a lot out there that LGBTQ people don’t have and we deserve,” Rupert-Gordon said.

It may have been canceled in 2021 but, over the years, the Pride parade has grown in size and acceptance to become more than just a celebration. Behind the fun, party atmosphere it is a show of strength, a statement that people in the LGBT community are no longer silent and no longer alone.