San Diego cancels Pride celebration amid coronavirus restrictions

Sister Yesate of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence waves a transgender flag while walking the 2019 San Diego Pride Parade in Hillcrest.
(Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego Pride, an annual July tradition that draws as many as 350,000 people over the course of the three-day celebration, will not be held this year in deference to an ongoing statewide prohibition of large gatherings designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Organizers on Thursday announced the cancellation of the July 17-19 event, a decision that was solidified following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Tuesday news conference where he made clear that major events attracting large numbers of people are unlikely to occur this summer.

“We have been saying as an organization for about a month now that Pride would not continue unless it’s safe and healthy to do so, but on Tuesday, we received guidance from the governor that for the foreseeable future, mass gatherings of any kind would not be possible,” San Diego Pride Executive Director Fernando López said.


Billed as the largest civic event in the region, the combination rally, two-day festival and Saturday parade lands in a month that is normally chock full of hugely popular events that draw throngs of people from well beyond San Diego.

County Fairs from San Diego to the San Francisco Bay area have been canceled, and large music festivals have been postponed over the coronavirus.

April 15, 2020

Comic-Con, scheduled for the week after Pride, is the city’s single biggest convention and while expected to cancel as well, it has yet to make a formal announcement.

Also planned for July is another large convention, Esri, which is unlikely to hold its GIS technology conference at the convention center, now operating as a homeless shelter.

Not only will the loss of Pride this year be financially devastating to the already closed local businesses that depend on the income each July from the event, but it also will cut deeply into Pride’s fundraising efforts and charitable initiatives for the year, López said.

Last year Pride, a celebration that has been a San Diego tradition for more than four decades, raised $2.5 million, of which $340,000 was set aside for grants given to 65 LGBTQ-serving organizations, noted Lopez.

Despite the cancellation, San Diego Pride still is planning to participate in a virtual “Global Pride” celebration on June 27, bringing together Pride events from across the world, many of which had to be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. San Francisco also announced this week it was canceling its Pride festival.


Weisberg writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.