It Was 35 Years Ago Today . . . .
The 1976 S.F. Gay Freedom Day Parade
This flag waver was near the
start of the parade in the
Financial District. It's strange
now, to remember that the
march actually once went
from downtown to the Castro.
People did march as groups
representing different
segments of the Gay
community, and people did
carry signs, but usually not  
as large a banner as this
hand made one which read
"Bay Area Gay Liberation".
I don't recall if this was an
actual organization, an ad
hoc group, or simply a
banner to march behind.
In really dramatic contrast to
parades of recent years, this
photo, taken on Upper
Market Street facing
downtown, gives the viewer
an idea of the size of the
parade at the time. The
official crowd estimate at the
time, of combined marchers
and observers, was 120,000.
1976 was both the
Bicenntential and  a
Republican Administration -
Gerald Ford was President -
but this was still
San Francisco.
By 1976, San Francisco and
the Bay Area had seen quite
a few demonstrations and
public events around Civil
Rights, the Free Speech
Movement at UC Berkeley,
anti-war demonstrations and
the like. My recollection is
that Marx Meadow in Golden
Gate Park was used as a
staging area for the
post-parade celebration both
as a setting that would mean
something to people who
might have been hippies a
few years before, but also for
a way for the City to contain
such (at that time) a large
group of celebrants.
Still, being a San Francisco
event, some of the
entertainment might have  
been a little out of the
mainstream. I believe the tap
dancing trio above were
members of the Angels of
Light, a later group
comprising some of the
original members of the
notoriously theatrical
Cockettes, whose bearded,
glittered and "festively
attired" male participants
were the genesis of the term
"gender fuck" for bearded
men in traditionally women's
clothing.
Another celebrant
in the Bicentennial Spirit.
Here, a poser poses. Note all
the 70's hair.
By now a parade veteran (my
first as 1973, I think, down
Polk Street), here I am (in a
white athletic shirt), three
years later, hanging out with
my good friends Arthur (with
the red bandanna) and
Mitchell (upper left) and
Arthur's BF Richard in the red
shirt to the right.    
Dedicated to those who will not pass this way again, and to those who remember.
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