San Francisco Pride crowds fill city streets

June 24, 2012 8:38:50 PM PDT
Loud and proud, colorful crowds filled the streets of San Francisco on the last day of this year's Pride weekend.

It's been a big year for the LGBT community and their supporters. The president said recently he now supports same-sex marriage and late last year, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was repealed, but there are some people who marched on Sunday who say there is still more to be done.

There were smiling queens, costumes that are louder than the cheering audience and beaming politicians. It was San Francisco Pride 2012 and in the 42 years since people have turned out for this event, the audience and participants have changed quite a bit. These days, it's expected to see a contingent of fully uniformed San Francisco police proudly march here. But noticeably absent are lots of people in military uniform. This is the first San Francisco Pride since "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was fully repealed.

When asked if it was allowed for people to march in a military uniform in the Pride parade, Tiffany Perez with the US Coast Guard said, "At this moment, not now. I'm really happy to say that the Coast Guard is in support of coming out and participating."

Perez is an active duty Coast Guard member and says her command is still working out the kinks in allowing personnel to march in uniform. She's one of only a few who joined the local chapter of gay veterans.

"I'll be honest, I'm a little heartbroken because I put the word out. Anyone, whether your straight, gay, or what, if you're a veteran, please come join us and show the world we're united," said James McConnell from the American Legion Post 448.

With a turnout estimated to be as many as a million people, this is billed as the largest Pride celebration in the country.

And with many participants choosing to strip down to nearly nothing, there is an odd irony that even with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repealed, Perez and other members of the military still wait to show up dressed from head to toe.

"I can't wait to be in uniform, maybe next year," said Perez.

It's a postponed hope to share all her pride.

There are some military rules that prevent political action in uniform, but there are groups in the military that say that they are pushing to be able to participate in parades, just like soldiers participate in parades like St. Patrick's Day and the Fourth of July.

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