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September 24, 2019

6 Iconic Annual LGBTQ Events Not To Miss in San Francisco

For nearly half a century, San Francisco has celebrated lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) pride with parades, celebrations and festivals. Its rich counterculture history stretches from North Beach to the Castro and dates as far back as the mid-1800s. At that point, this famed West Coast city was a pioneering town that welcomed transient and adventurous new residents; since then, it has embraced its public persona to become one of the most exclusive - and inclusive - locations for celebrating LGBTQ culture. Here are six LGBTQ events in San Francisco you won't want to miss this year.

Frameline43 - The King of Queer Film Festivals (June 20-30)
Lights! Camera! Action? Frameline43, San Francisco's International LGBTQ Film Festival, features screenings of more than 150 movies, shorts and documentaries at different venues all over the city.

Fresh Meat Festival (June)
What Frameline is to LGBTQ cinema, the Fresh Meat Festival is to live art. The Transgender and Queer Performance Festival features acts that run the gamut from opera to boy bands and ballroom dancing to hula hooping. Each show ia followed up by drinks, dancing and DJs. The Fresh Meat Festival makes a point to be inclusive, offering a wheelchair-accessible venue and American Sign Language interpreted performances. 

San Francisco PRIDE (June 29-30)
No list of iconic LGBTQ events would be complete without San Francisco's PRIDE festival. If you're just starting to explore the LGBTQ community in San Francisco, this celebration is a great introduction to all the area has to offer. Started in 1970 on the one-year anniversary of the infamous Stonewall Riots in New York, the theme this year is "Generations of Resistance." The event starts on Saturday in downtown's Civic Center Plaza featuring a festival of more than 20 community-produced performances, from Homo Hip Hop to Gray Pride, and culminates in the 49th Annual SF LGBT Pride Parade on Sunday morning. These are the best areas to stay for San Francisco PRIDE.

Up Your Alley Street Fair (July 28)
If you like leather, body hair, and a healthy dose of filth, then the Up Your Alley Street Fair is for you. This all-day event starts in front of the Powerhouse Bar on Dore Alley and stretches all the way to 10th Street. A precursor to the more famous Folsom Street Fair, Up Your Alley is a summer festival targeted to fetish enthusiasts and fans of BDSM with more than 50 adult vendors and close to 15,000 participants every year.

Folsom Street Fair (Sept.  29)
This annual LGBT celebration isn't called "The World's Biggest Leather Event" for nothing. An all-day event covering 13 city blocks, the Folsom Street Fair attracts more than 400,000 participants every year and offers a little bit of action for everyone. Want toys and gear? More than 200 vendors will be displaying their goods. Want electronic or alternative music? The fair boasts an line-up of music, dancing and live art. Not for the faint of heart, this event can be celebrated in leather or nothing at all. The event also offers food, beer, liquor and The Playground, a space for women and genderqueer folk.

Castro Street Fair (First Weekend in October)
Castro Street is arguably the most famous and iconic of all LGBTQ neighborhoods. Launched into fame in the early 1970s and influential in electing Harvey Milk, the first openly gay official in the city, the Castro District is fully open about its heritage. In fact, the annual Castro Street Fair was founded by Milk himself in 1974. The fair is located in the heart of the Castro District, centered around Market and Castro streets. With vendors, dance parties, arts and crafts, live performances and more, the Castro Street Fair donates its proceeds to local charitable organizations.

The legacy of the LGBTQ movement in San Francisco is one of struggle, triumph and ultimately pride. Whether it's your first time in San Francisco or you're a regular visitor to its beautiful bay, be sure to take some time to celebrate and appreciate its uniquely inclusive history and counterculture by attending one of these iconic events.


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