The Pride Parade after Prop 8

Jews Celebrate Pride

The party attire was full-effect on Sunday for the 2009 San Francisco Pride Parade: feather boas, glitter, leather mini skirts, 5-inch heels… and that’s just the men! The traditional flamboyance associated with the 2009 Annual Pride Parade definitely did not disappoint, but there was a solemn and very strong political undertone to the celebration this year. In all of the years I’ve attended both the San Jose and San Francisco Pride parades, this year felt less like a giant dance party in the street and more like an organized, professional, and strategic mobilization in the entire community as both LGBT members and their supportive allies came together with one message: We want equality, and we want it now. Eight months ago, hearing the word “no” had a positive connotation. When Proposition 8 (the Proposition to ban gay marriage in California) was still on the table and with so much money and effort being poured into our state to fight against equality, the San Francisco Bay Area stood up and firmly said, “NO”. It was strong, encouraging, and it banded our community together. I was and still am so proud to live in an area where discrimination is not tolerated and the leaders in both my political and Jewish community were adamant in saying, “No. This can not and will not happen.” On October 11, 2008 my girlfriend of two years and I were married in a small civil ceremony surrounded by family and friends. It was to be exactly one year to the day before the “big” wedding we had been planning since our engagement earlier that spring – but bumped up in the timing “just in case”. It was a gorgeous autumn day, and the most special day of my life, but in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but feel like we were smart for taking out this insurance policy of sorts.

Then on the first Tuesday in November, we heard the one word we didn’t want to hear: Yes. By a devastatingly narrow margin, the slim majority of California had succeeded in taking away a passionate minority’s rights. Yes had become no. No equality. No marriage for us. Signs went up crying “fowl” as chickens suddenly had scored a better deal on the November ballot than the LGBT community. Angry marches stopped traffic along Market. Little did my wife and I know, we were about to become one of just 18,000 couples who are now a part of this first-class / second-class hybrid who were allowed to keep their marriage legal while everyone in the foreseeable future will have that right denied. Shortly after the second painful blow by the Supreme Court’s late-May ruling to not overturn Proposition 8 based on the argument of its unconstitutionality, The j. ran a cover-story on the Jewish community’s mobilization after the verdict to let its constituency and most importantly, the general public know that this blatant disregard for equality and justice is not accepted in our Jewish faith, which firmly believes that all people are created b’tzelem elohim - in the image of G-d. Knowing that something had to be done, our leadership started banding together. Federation LGBT Alliance director, Lisa Finkelstein, in partnership with East Bay Federation’s LGBT director, Sam Strauss, the Progressive Jewish Alliance, Kol Tzedek, Jewish Mosaic, JCRC, local synagogues and other organizations mobilized over 500 Jews to march together in Sunday’s parade. Email blasts signed by a number of rabbis were created. Word of mouth spread the information from community professionals to temple members to friends and family. My North Peninsula’s community was small, but not to be outdone. With Rabbis Dan Feder, Nat Ezray, Dennis Eisner, temple executive Amy Mallor, temple president Keith Tandowsky in attendance, as well as families from local temples with their children, community leaders, some with Federation connection for over 25 years - all marching with us, for the first time in a while, hearing “yes” was okay again. As a Jewish community professional, I asked my community members to march with me for professional reasons and of course, personal ones… and I heard, “yes” many times, and always enthusiastically. It was as if the word “no” wasn’t even an option; even those who were going to regrettably be out of town insisted that they would indeed be there in spirit. Sunday morning, as we assembled and turned on to Market Street in the abnormally hot San Francisco sun, the “yes” continued. “Yes” roared from the crowds of people watching the parade from the sides, along with “thank you” shouted at us from random people who were absolutely thrilled to see us with our Hebrew-lettered t-shirts and tallit-covered shoulders. I am so proud to be a part of this community and honored to have had the opportunity to march and to “pray with my feet” Sunday morning. It’s nice to be told yes. It’s nice to say yes. It’s empowering to be in a community that won’t tolerate anything but the best it can give, and as a Federation employee, it thrills me to be able to give back to a community that deserves so much.

~ by Denise Ron, North Peninsula Campaign Associate

Categories: Events, LGBTQIA+


June 30, 2009


The Federation