SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The 53rd Annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration and Parade is just around the corner, coming up on June 24 and 25.
"Over the past 53 years, many leaders of the LGBTQ+ community have been recognized by San Francisco Pride. This year, our theme is looking back and moving forward. And we want to honor all the work that went before us. And we look forward to the new leaders that are emerging in the queer community," SF Pride Executive Director Suzanne Ford said.
With the two-day celebration fast approaching, SF Pride is announcing the five Community Grand Marshals and one Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshal for 2023.
Dr. Nasser Mohamed, who was overwhelmingly chosen by the public, is a Qatari physician and an LGBT rights activist. In 2022, he became the very first Qatari to publicly come out as an LGBT person during his international petition campaign "Love is Not a Crime," which more people signed than the total number of those that physically attended the last game of the 2022 FIFA Soccer World Cup in Qatar.
"To be a Grand Marshal of the SF Pride is to tell all of those watching me in silence that their lives matter," Dr. Mohamed said. "It is telling them that they would be loved and accepted just as they are without needing to fragment themselves. It is establishing that LGBT individuals and their rights are universal and that we are all together in this fight for equality."
The organization Drag Story Hour has been selected by the public as a Community Grand Marshal. Drag Story Hour features storytellers using the art of drag to read books to kids in libraries, schools, and bookstores. DSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. They envision a world where kids can learn from LGBTQ+ stories and experiences to love themselves, celebrate the fabulous diversity in their communities, and stand up for what they believe in and each other.
"Being voted Grand Marshal is a great honor and privilege," Executive Director Jonathan Hamilt said. "It means the LGBTQ+ community sees us as role models to lead a celebration of our long history of struggles, triumphs, and ongoing fight for equality and acceptance. Drag On!"
Honey Mahogany is a performer, small business owner, and activist who grew up in San Francisco. She was selected by the SF Pride Membership and her social welfare work has earned her recognition from the City of San Francisco, the State of California, as well as awards from numerous organizations. Honey is a co-founder of the Transgender District in SF, a founding queen of Drag Story Hour, co-owner of the Stud bar, and currently serves as Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party.
"It's a huge honor to be chosen by SF Pride's membership to be a Grand Marshal this year," she said. "As someone who grew up in San Francisco and has been participating in Pride for years, there is no greater honor. With the trans and drag communities under attack right now across the country, it's wonderful to see those voices centered and uplifted in San Francisco's Pride Celebration."
Laura Lala-Chávez, selected by the SF Pride Board of Directors, brings over 25 years' experience in youth development, counseling, and nonprofit management to LYRIC - a center for LGBTQQ+ youth. Laura is a bilingual, Trans, non-binary immigrant and first generation American. Raised between the border of the United States and Mexico, Laura would cross country lines every morning to attend school. As a person with multiple intersections, their lived experience fuels their passion for uplifting and empowering historically excluded youth, immigration justice and LGBTQ+ equality. They have personally mentored hundreds of marginalized youth navigating systems and services. A parent themselves, Laura believes every child should be resourced, affirmed, and celebrated.
"Pride means so many things to me," Lala-Chávez said. "The meaning has grown and evolved from being a safe space to be authentic in my younger years to now being a place where I share the history and activism of our community as a parent with my kids. In our family, June is our favorite month of the year! I feel privileged to live in SF and be a part of such a vibrant LGBTQIA+ community here all year, but especially during Pride Month."
Breonna McCree, selected by the SF Pride Board of Directors, has worked on various behavioral intervention studies, informing health care providers and mental health professionals of the unique barriers that disproportionately impact her community. She continues to develop and establish outreach, engagement, and community relation initiatives to promote community service programs for her trans and gender expansive tribe. Breonna envisions a safe and affirming world, free of all systems of oppression, where transgender and gender diverse communities are free to thrive.
"Pride allows my tribe to be their most authentic selves, and reminds me that love is universal and unconditional," McCree said. "As a Black woman of trans experience, Pride encourages me to stand against levels of violence, discrimination, and oppression for my gender-expansive community. My Pride means love, solidarity, community, and resistance."
In June 1981, 2 weeks before his 18th birthday, Paul Aguilar read about a mysterious disease killing young gay men, then in 1988, he tested positive for HIV. He began his community work volunteering at AIDS Dance-a-thon and AIDSWalk SF, continuing with Honoring Our Experience and the HIV Advocacy Network. Paul is a co-founding author of the San Francisco Principles 2020, a manifesto outlining the unmet needs of long-term survivors and is the Chair of the HIV Caucus of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club. He currently works as the Long-Term Survivor Community Liaison for the Aging Services department at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Paul lives at Marty's Place, the only self-governing housing co-operative for people living with HIV and AIDS in the United States, as well as serves on their Board of Directors.
"Receiving Lifetime Achievement as a Community Grand Marshal for San Francisco Pride is something that I never expected," Aguilar said. "To be considered among the ranks of such icons as James Hormel, Cleve Jones, and Dr. Marcy Adelman is... well, let's face it, those are pretty big shoes to fill. I just hope to do them justice."
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