UPDATE: July 02-Crowd estimates from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Castro Community on Patrol have now been raised to 150,000-double earlier reports.
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The Castro was bursting at the seams Saturday as people in the numbers of tens of thousands converged on the world’s most famous Gayborhood as the 21st Dyke March and 23rd Pink Saturday converged to form one of San Francisco’s largest annual street parties.
Crowd estimates are at 75,000 plus for Pink Saturday. Getting around the ‘Stro was at times wiggle room only through the closed down corridors along Market from Sanchez Street to Castro and Castro Street up to 19th Street. The celebration deemed even more lively coming on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling nullifying Prop 8 and dismantling part of DOMA.
What many don’t realize is that Pink Saturday didn’t start out as party it was in fact-in the beginning 23 years ago-a radical gathering of Queer politicos demanding LGBT equality and an end to the AIDS crisis. Gerard Koskovich, SF based LGBT historian and curator at the GLBT History Museum, penned a history of Pink Saturday that was published recently via Facebook. It is a fascinating read and a great glimpse into the Queer history of both the Castro and the City.
The Radical Roots of Pink Saturday-The History of Pink Saturday
Pink Saturday started as a permit-free street party sparked by activists from ACT UP/San Francisco the night before the Pride Parade in 1990. The VI International Conference on AIDS also was taking place in San Francisco that week, and thousands of AIDS activists had swarmed into town from throughout North America — along with the usual hordes of Pride tourists. ACT UP had staged a brilliant series of forceful and creative protests throughout the week of the AIDS conference. By Saturday evening, the activists were ready to celebrate — and they were in no mood to be pushed around.
Despite the crowds that had already been growing on Castro Street for several years on the evening before Pride, the San Francisco Police Department had resolutely refused community requests to close the street. In response, exasperated ACT UP folks talked about taking matters into their own hands by shutting down the Castro as a finale for the group’s week of massive protests at the AIDS conference. The idea circulated via word of mouth, but there was no formal announcement. (The events calendar in the “ACT UP Handbook,” a booklet produced for distribution to activists at the AIDS conference, doesn’t mention a Saturday evening protest.)
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