San Francisco — A new online photography exhibition documenting five decades of San Francisco Pride opens today on the GLBT Historical Society’s website

Presented by the GLBT Historical Society and the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) Galleries with the support of San Francisco Pride, 50 Years of Pride celebrates the golden jubilee of one of the city’s most beloved public festivals.

The physical exhibition will open on the ground floor and North Light Court of San Francisco City Hall after the city’s shelter-in-place order has been relaxed. 50 Years of Pride inaugurates the GLBT Historical Society’s Pride season, which includes both exhibitions and programming.

On June 28, 1970, a small group of LGBTQ people marched down Polk Street—then San Francisco’s most prominent queer neighborhood—to mark an event called “Christopher Street Liberation Day.” Commemorating the one-year anniversary of the historic Stonewall uprising on Christopher Street in New York City, the march was followed the next afternoon by an intimate “gay-in” at Speedway Meadows in Golden Gate Park.

Fifty years later, this modest gathering has evolved into San Francisco Pride, a globally famous annual parade and celebration that welcomes hundreds of thousands of participants and spectators from around the world the last weekend in June.

Encompassing examples of photojournalism, portraiture, fine-art photography, posters and magazine covers, 50 Years of Pride honors how San Francisco’s LGBTQ community has come into its own since that first humble Pride gathering.

The exhibition explores how Pride has reflected and refracted the community’s priorities, responses and activism in times of hope and despair, triumph and setback. Images drawn from the GLBT Historical Society’s archives are joined by photographs from other institutions, as well as works by over a dozen independent queer photographers.

The exhibition is curated by Lenore Chinn and Pamela Peniston, two San Francisco artists with deep roots in the city’s queer arts and culture community.

“Culling through the archives at the GLBT Historical Society, we found a treasure trove of photographs, snapshots and 35 mm color slides that tell a story of the spirit and nature of Pride and what it has come to mean both locally and internationally,” Chinn says.

50 Years of Pride is a collaborative project of the GLBT Historical Society and the SFAC Galleries. “The history of Pride over the last half century in San Francisco is as complex and diverse as our city,” says the GBLT Historical society’s executive director, Terry Beswick. “It is also a great lens through which we can examine the evolution of our LGBTQ rights and freedoms, as well as our awareness of how our movement intersects with other social justice movements. I’m so proud to have curators Pam Peniston and Lenore Chin tell these stories through this exhibit.”

Meg Shiffler, director of the SFAC Galleries, says, “The SFAC Galleries is thrilled to partner with the GLBT Historical Society to produce this expansive anniversary exhibition. SF Pride is a San Francisco treasure that has become a globally recognized and totally integrated part of our civic and cultural identity.” The SFAC Galleries is also celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2020.

This exhibition has been made possible by the generous support of San Francisco Pride. “We could not be more excited about the way 50 Years of Pride helps illuminate the complexity of our story,” says Fred Lopez, executive director of SF Pride. “It’s frequently said that LGBTQ history is American history, and that’s undeniably true, particularly here in San Francisco. Exhibitions like this highlight our unique nature as a city at the forefront of all things LGBTQ.”

Additional support for 50 Years of Pride is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and San Francisco Grants for the Arts.

50 Years of Pride opens Friday, May 15 on the GLBT Historical Society’s website at glbthistory.org/50-years-of-pride.

 

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