A new tradition takes place in the Gaslamp Quarter
McKenna Aiello | Gay San Diego
Mayor Kevin Faulconer kicked off the 40th anniversary of San Diego Pride on Wednesday, July 9 when he became the first mayor of San Diego to hoist rainbow flags over the Gaslamp Quarter.
As members of the Gaslamp Quarter Association, San Diego LGBT Pride, and other leaders and members of the local LGBT community looked on, Faulconer acknowledged the struggles of past LGBT leaders and looked toward a future comprised of even more triumphs for the community.
“Today I’m proud to stand next to people who continue to fight for acceptance and equality,” Faulconer said during the press conference leading the flag ceremony.
“And given the fact that the first march took place in Downtown, here we have come full circle,” he said.
A moderate Republican, Faulconer has not been shy in openly sharing his support for the LGBT community; he chairs the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry Coalition — a national, non-partisan group advocating for the marriage rights of same-sex couples — and has appointed several members of the LGBT community on both his transition and permanent staff. Jimmy Parker, executive director of the Gaslamp Quarter Association, was also on hand, representing the businesses of the district. Parker addressed the district’s tradition of inviting millions of visitors to the Gaslamp Quarter every year through quintessential San Diego Events such as Comic Con.
“Today, though, we increase that tradition and make sure we are welcoming everybody,” Parker said.
Parker said he hopes as a result of the flag raising and this new recognition of the LGBT community within the Quarter they will see more diversity in the historic neighborhood.
Faulconer also presented a City proclamation to San Diego Pride’s Executive Director Stephen Whitburn, honoring the historic anniversary of this year’s Pride events and declaring July 14 – 20 as Pride Week in the region.
“San Diego is one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the nation and it’s terrific to have a mayor that embraces our community,” Whitburn said.
The crowd cheered as a city-run Sky-Jack scissor-lift raised the hard hat-wearing mayor up to a traditional gaslamp light fixture, located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and L Street, immediately below the arch that signifies the entrance to the Gaslamp Quarter.
There, Faulconer positioned two rainbow-colored flags, which will join more than 120 others flying above the Gaslamp’s most populated streets the next two weeks signifying to visitors that it is Pride season in the City of San Diego.
This new observance comes as a first for San Diego, as rainbow flags to commemorate the annual Pride event are typically only placed along the streets of Hillcrest.
More than 300,000 LGBT members and supporters are expected to attend and celebrate this year’s 40th annual Pride events happening July 18 – 20 throughout Hillcrest and Balboa Park. For more information, visit sandiegopride.org.