San Diego's Hillcrest community will celebrate Pride this weekend with a full lineup of events, including a rally, block party and parade, all in support of the LGBT community.
The 21+ block party – and official kick-off to San Diego Pride weekend – runs from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the intersection of Normal Street and University Avenue in the uptown neighborhood known for its diversity.
Organizers say this year’s shindig will feature live performances, local DJs, giant LED screen, luminescent carnival rides and go-go dancers. The party headliner is JES, a singer, songwriter, producer, artist and DJ also known as the reigning “Queen of Rocktronica.”
The event will start with a ceremonial raising of the iconic 600-foot Pride flag that stands in the heart of Hillcrest.
Organizers say the block party will boast gourmet food trucks and outdoor beverage stands featuring cocktails and draft beer. Attendees can also opt for a VIP experience by reserving private cabanas and ordering bottle service. An official after-party will take place at Rich’s Night Club at 1051 University Ave.
Advanced general admission tickets are available online for $20 per person, while VIP admission is $45 and includes a few drinks and food in an exclusive lounge area. Organizers say all proceeds from this event will benefit the Hillcrest Pride Flag.
Before the block party, LGBT leaders will host the annual Spirit of Stonewall Rally at 6 p.m. at Marston Point on Balboa Drive and 8th Avenue. This free community rally will recognize leaders who are working to preserve the gains and meet the challenges of the LGBT community. This rally will be attended by Speaker of California Assembly Toni Atkins, San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria RISE San Diego CEO Dwayne Crenshaw and many others.
San Diego Pride weekend will continue Saturday with the annual Pride Parade starting at 11 a.m. at the Hillcrest Pride Flag at University Avenue and Normal Street. The 1.1-mile route proceeds west on University Avenue, turns south on 6th Avenue, left onto Balboa Drive and ends at Laurel Street.
Fittingly, the theme of this year’s parade is “Liberty and Justice For All.”
The weekend also includes the Pride Music Festival Saturday and Sunday at Marston Point in Balboa Park. Weekend general admission tickets to the music festival cost $20 per person.
In addition to Pride events in Hillcrest, other parts of San Diego are also supporting Pride in their own symbolic ways.
In the Gaslamp Quarter, for instance, 124 rainbow Pride flags are currently on display on Fifth Avenue atop each streetlight post that lines the street. The bright flags, presented by the San Diego Pride organization, will remain strung up in downtown San Diego through July 31 representing support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
Earlier this week, a rainbow flag was raised at the San Diego State University campus in honor of local LGBT Pride events. It stands in the 5500 block of Campanile Drive at the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union flagpole and has been raised for the past eight years.
Meanwhile, on Friday morning, a large rainbow flag was set to be draped over the side of the State Building on Front Street in downtown San Diego in honor of the weekend’s Pride events. Speaker of the California State Assembly Toni Atkins will preside over the ceremony, accompanied by representatives from San Diego Pride, LGBT state employees and local LGBT leaders and allies.
The oversized flag will remain on the east side of the State Building throughout Pride weekend.
Atkins received permission from the office of California Gov. Jerry Brown to have the state display the flag at the building this year in the wake of the historic June 26 Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile, beginning at noon on Friday, Balboa Park will hold a Trans Pride celebration to recognize transgender men and women for their courage. This free event will be held at 6th Avenue and Quince Street, and will include a potluck and BBQ from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., many activities and workshops and a march at 7 p.m. from Juniper Street.
Transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner visited north San Diego Wednesday for Opening Day in Del Mar, and some fans hoped she would make at appearance over Pride Weekend as well.