Gay and lesbian service members on active duty for the first time in the San Diego Pride Parade on Saturday—thanks to the end of the Pentagon’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
With many waving American flags or clutching inflatable pink flamingos, an expected crowd of nearly 200,000 cheered several dozen gay members of the military—following signs for the branch, including Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. The parade traveled west on University Avenue from Normal Street to Sixth Avenue, then south on Sixth, ending at Balboa Drive and Upas Street.
Mayoral candidates Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner were among many politicians to march or ride—with spectators carrying signs of support or derision. Other participants included San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, Rep. Susan Davis, state Sens. Christine Kehoe and Marty Block, Assemblywoman Toni Atkins and San Diego council members Todd Gloria, Sherri Lightner and Marti Emerald.
According to U-T San Diego, “The U.S. military contingent included about 40 members—some active, some retired. As they assembled in the staging area, countless spectators took pictures of and with them. Most of the active-duty personnel said they were under orders not to give interviews although photos were fine.”
More than 190 units took part under sunny skies in the low 80s, including several grocery chains, churches and students from local colleges and universities. The parade lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours, ending with the traditional blocks-long rainbow banner and spectators joining the finale.