San Francisco is a historic haven for the queer community throughout the country, and this year’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration, otherwise knows as Pride by the San Francisco Pride committee, marks the 52nd triumphant year of the month-long celebration in the Bay. The festival culminates on the last weekend of the month from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days with a finale parade on June 26 beginning at 10:30 a.m. Of course, the history of Pride is marred by systemic oppression and violence perpetrated by intolerance and ignorance, which is why this year’s theme, “Love Will Keep Us Together,” is fitting — especially given that before the festivities begin city officials are garnering public attention through division.
Though San Francisco may get the spotlight, there are ways to enjoy Pride throughout the Bay Area. The Oakland Black Pride Festival runs June 24 to 26 and is the nation’s first Black-led Pride festival during Pride Month. A few events include the Black Queer Expo and Masqueerade Party. Sonoma County is celebrating its 36th Pride festival with a parade on June 4 in Santa Rosa. Plus there are bar crawls in San Jose and a pool party in Santa Cruz. No matter where you are in the Bay Area, and despite the troubling times, there are places to eat, drink, and dance the day or night away.
Here’s where to eat during Pride month in the San Francisco Bay Area
After hitting the parade on Sunday, June 26 — perhaps with the Poly People if anyone is in need of a group? — stop by Milk SF, a cafe on Mission Street that’s owned and operated by wife-and-wife duo Katey “Scoots” McKee and Sharon Ratton. The owners wanted a place for the queer community to hang out during the day without alcohol so the shop is a colorful and bright chance to get a coffee throughout the festivities. The rotating coffee specials, like the boozeless whiskey ginger cold brew, each deserve a try. On June 26 they’re also hosting a queer makers mart.
A Bi-BQ is available earlier in the week on Wednesday, June 22 at Dolores Park for other daytime denizens of Pride. Up the street at the Castro’s Kokak Chocolates, Filipina chocolatier Carol Gancia honors three celebrations in June: Pride, Philippine Independence Day on June 12, and her shop’s second anniversary. She’s bringing out limited chocolates, including the Say It Louder 16-piece truffle collection and multiple celebratory single origin dark chocolate bars and lollipops.
In Oakland, men over the age of 30 seeking men can hit Nido’s Backyard for a Big Gay Dating Brunch. The Oakland Black Pride Festival has brought on chef Zeus of Eat Good with Zeus and Noir Chef Collective for “Breaking Bread,” the opening reception to the celebration on June 22. The chef will prepare a six-course tasting menu including peri peri duck and lamb lollipops over apricot puree.
Grab a drink at these Bay Area bars during Pride Month
Drinking in the Bay Area is, infamously or famously, highly accessible. For the month of June one needs to go no further than the Castro, SoMa, Polk Street, and the Tenderloin to find historically queer-friendly watering holes. Venues like the Lookout, Twin Peaks, Cinch Saloon, Martuni’s, Pilsner Inn, and Trax are just a few of the evergreen hangouts.
If you’re in the North Bay, though, try the Bungalow Kitchen. The Michael Mina restaurant is donating $1 from every cocktail and glass of wine sold throughout the month of June to the Spahr Center. The organization is Marin County’s only non-profit community agency devoted to serving, supporting, and empowering the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, and everyone in the county living with and affect by HIV.
For anyone who might need a place to stay the night in the East Bay, Kissel Uptown Oakland, home to rooftop bar High 5ive, is offering an Unbound Pride Package. It’s 15 percent off the best available rate, a special welcome gift, and a Pink Kissel cocktail, either a grapefruit Lillet spritz or a glittery mezcal cocktail.
Check out these Pride parties around San Francisco
The chance to gather after the eating and drinking is over, or in between meals and beverages, is integral to this month-long affair. The Tenderloin, which is home to the world’s first legally recognized transgender district, has a party at the Phoenix Hotel on Saturday, June 25 and a show at Piano Fight on Wednesday, June 17.
While serving staples like Mango, one of the Bay’s longest running parties for queer women, San Francisco is also offering a few exclusives this year. W San Francisco is putting on a drag show “Long Live the Queens,” which happens to be the return of LGBTQ+ icon Heklina on Friday, June 10 in the hotel’s Living Room Bar. The night will feature the talents of fellow drag queens Landa Lakes, Carnie Asada, and Madd Dogg. Executive chef Dawn Taylor-Cole has also put together a special “TRACE the Rainbow” menu and a portion of proceeds from bar sales on June 10 and 14 will go to the SF LGBT Center.
In SoMa, the Queer Cultural Center will put on Queers of the Fatosphere at the American Bookbinders Museum on June 11 with queer visual artists Bearpad and performers Rawiyah Tarik, Baruch Porras-Hernandez, and Kevin Seaman. Then the organization heads to Oasis with Kai Kai B. Michaels and Holly Graphics on June 15.
At Casements in the Mission District, DJ Nico and drag queen Mz’ Love’ O host Family Affair, a free queer 90s to 00s dance party, every month. For Pride, the party is on June 12 with a few special guests — plus co-host DJ Campbell is guest spinning at the After Dark party at El Rio on June 3. Also at El Rio, don’t miss a queer liberation party hosted by Nicki Jizz and Vivvy on Sunday, June 26.