S.F.’s gay parades quickly gained momentum after informal start

Jun 22, 2015
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Oh, what a mighty change 45 years has brought.
Back when San Francisco’s first gay rights march shocked the squares of 1970 with the bold spectacle of a couple hundred marchers down Polk Street, having homosexual sex in California was a crime.
Now? The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Parade and Celebration, culminating with the parade next Sunday, June 28, will pack downtown with hundreds of thousands of revelers. And the daily frivolity of penis-shaped cookies and guys in cut-to-there chaps in the Castro draws chuckles, not shocked expressions.
Two years after the small Polk Street gathering, a much more organized Gay Pride march took place, though it looked more like something from a John Steinbeck novel than the San Francisco Pride Parades of the 21st century. Bodies piled in the backs of old flatbed trucks. Signs were made out of bedsheets or used pieces of cardboard. There was an eerie quiet along the middle part of the parade route — thousands of supporters had gathered at City Hall, but in other parts of the city, the crowd consisted of an occasional stunned passerby.
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