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Sunday, June 30, 2013

SF Pride 2013

I have wanted to attend the Pride Parade in San Francisco ever since I knew it existed. Finally, this year we made it. It was the 43rd annual parade but definitely not the one to miss- only days after Supreme Court overturned the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and granted privileges to legally married same-sex couples. (Read the Rulings).

Commute could have been a hiccup, but unlike previous years I didn't let it deter me. We usually drive to SF from San Jose-  a matter of 45 mins to an hour on a regular day. But finding a parking spot in Downtown SF on days like these can be near impossible . So, we parked at Millbrae station and took the BART to Powell St. A lot of people got down at Civic Center. The parade started at 10:30 am. We had started from home at 9 am and reached Millbrae at 9:30 am. But it took an hour before we could get the BART tickets in the crowd. We took the yellow line.Significantly, a child with two Moms was in the seat in front of us. She looked happy and smiled at me. I don't care if the kid doesn't have a father, as long as she has enough love from her parents.

We used the public transport after years; I remembered the first time I had ridden the Boston Red Line with SG on my first day to my university.

The parade had already begun when we reached Market and Powell around 11 am. The atmosphere was celebratory. It smelled of weed, beer and fried food, like most rock concerts do. I found a very convenient spot right in the front (900 Market St) and took as many pictures I could. Someone asked  how the pictures were coming, I said I was trying, but it was difficult to focus. He said maybe I should walk into the street. I didn't think it was a good idea. He asked me where I was from and he mentioned that he had lived in India for 10 years from 1986- 1996. He asked me if I was from Calcutta when I mentioned I'm a Bengali. I told him I was from North-East but my husband was from Kolkata. We chatted for a while. SG found me and put his arm around me.

One of the largest assemblages was 'Free Bradley Manning'. We saw SFPD, Sheriff's department, Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), other straight elected officials who have worked for gay rights, employees from Chase, Facebook, Safeway and students from schools and universities supporting LGBT rights. Many of the couples in the parade were announcing their engagements. We saw a contingent  of senior LGBT members too.

We were given fiesta beads, wristbands, candies, condoms and lubricants as freebies. I took so many shots, my fingers hurt. It was a new experience for me in many ways. And overwhelming. So many people out on the streets walking for equality. And pride.

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