The Equality March for Unity and Pride on Sunday, June 11, may be the largest single-day global LGBTQ march and rally ever coordinated. With 93 cities hosting marches worldwide, the Equality March adds the spirit of the #Resistance to Pride Month with organizers hoping to “peacefully and clearly address concerns about the current political landscape and how it is contributing to the persecution and discrimination of LGBTQ+ individuals.”
But there will be no Equality March here in San Francisco. Despite our iconic status as the unofficial gay capital of the U.S., the Equality March did not receive permits to hold an event. It’s not for lack of LGBTQ people or any desire to protest, but a scheduling snafu that denied San Francisco its own march.
The flagship National Equality March will be Sunday in Washington, D.C., but sibling events are scheduled across America and in Australia, Canada, Spain, and Switzerland. As with the Women’s March in January, the Equality March will be a series of coordinated LGBTQ marches. (Some cities will host marches on different days to coincide with their Pride Weekends.) The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were not the primary coordinators of the San Francisco march, but they were involved with logistics and promotions.
A May 15 post on the Sisters’ Facebook page declared: “The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and a growing coalition of us, are organizing a march on June 11th (to correspond with the National Equality March in DC) starting at Dolores and 18th streets and ending with a protest in the Civic Center area.”
There were two problems with that plan, though. The Sikh Freedom Parade had already reserved Civic Center Plaza all day Sunday for its annual commemoration. Additionally, street closures resulting from Sunday’s Haight-Ashbury Street Fair affect several Muni lines the march route would have covered.
Because of the conflicts, permits were denied for the San Francisco Equality March. “We thought it was a great idea and offered to support the event,” the Sisters said in a statement to SF Weekly. “As much as we tried to make that vision happen, we ran out of time, and locations had already been permitted.”
So how can an LGBTQ resister or ally show up and support the Equality March on June 11? The answer lies about 50 miles south, where San Jose will be hosting Northern California’s only Equality March and rally that day.
“This is where the Bay Area’s Equality March is happening,” says Vera Sloan, co-founder of STAND San Jose, which is part of that march’s organizing coalition. “We’re a city of a million people. There’s a really awesome queer community down here. It’s a queer community that features a lot of folks who are of communities that find it difficult to access living in San Francisco — queer and trans women, people of color, and queer and trans youth, queer and trans folks with kids.”
The obvious problem is transportation, but San Jose Equality March organizers have organized free bus service from both San Francisco and Oakland. The San Francisco bus departs at 9 a.m. Sunday from the SF LGBT Center at 1800 Market St., and the Oakland bus departs at 9 a.m. from MacArthur BART. Both buses will depart San Jose at 4 p.m. and return to those destinations, and both require advance registration on the Equality March Shuttle section at EqualityMarchSJ.org.
“After we learned just a few days ago that unfortunately San Francisco will no longer have a participating march, we began looking at possible shuttle options,” Bryan Aubineau, communications chair for San Jose Equality March tells SF Weekly. With those buses secured, Aubineau emphasizes that advance registration is a must.
“One bus from each location, so space is limited,” he says.
If you miss out on the free bus, there are still public transportation options. “Caltrain and BART are available transportation options, both with single bus connections to the march and rally,” Aubineau notes. “The distance from the Caltrain station is also easily accessible by bike. We will offer a bike corral at the rally location.” (Caltrain’s San Jose Diridon Station is a little more than a mile from the march’s starting point and rally afterward.)
“We hike ourselves up there to support the community and to support our siblings in San Francisco,” Sloan says. “I think it will be okay for our siblings up in San Francisco to this time hike on down here and be in community with us. We would love to have them.”
The Equality March for Unity and Pride San Jose
Sunday, June 11 at San Jose City Hall at 11 a.m., leading to a rally at Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park at 1 p.m.; EqualityMarchSJ.org.