Photo: Drag Queens strut their stuff in the 2010 Pride Parade in San Francisco.
There is just something about San Francisco. To me, the City is the epitome of the freedom to be whoever it is that you are or have ever fantasized of being. It is also a photographer’s paradise. Every street reveals something different, something new, something out of the ordinary. Perhaps it’s the artist in me, but the moment I step off the ferry I feel transported into a parallel universe of sorts. A carnivalesque place of color, of smells, of sound and flair. A veritable cacophony of visual and auditory stimuli. An amazingly pleasurable overload of the senses.
On Sunday I took the early ferry ride across the Bay in anticipation of photographing the 40th Anniversary of the Pride Parade.
This was the second day of a weekend filled with contrast and juxtaposition. The day prior I spent 8 hours photographing a Fijian wedding where the bridal party donned traditional tribal Masi dresses. The groom was a Fijian tribal Chief and the bride a Caucasian American Paralegal. The wedding guests were a mixture of Fijian’s in brightly colored mu-mus and upper middle class conservative Christians in their Sunday best. Now on Pride Day I wandered the streets of San Francisco which were filled full with rainbow clad parade watchers, gaping-mouthed accidental tourists and a variety of street preachers shouting Hell and damnation through megaphone at the crowds of revelers.
I could not have ordered a more perfect two days to satisfy my intrinsic need to focus my lens and capture that which intrigues me. The wedding was a visual array of earth-tones, bright floral patterns and color with a juxtaposition of skin tones that covered the gamut. The Pride Parade was flashy and daring with the expected rainbow palette, bright pink boas, bare skin and shiny black leather.
Both days seemed to represent the freedom to be. The bride and groom chose to marry despite some family objections. There was a wonderful blending of Fijian culture and ways with Anglo-Saxon Christian tradition and values. The differences did not seem to matter in the end. It was a beautiful wedding filled with love and a fun time was had by all.
The Pride Parade was an opportunity for people to express who they are without fear of retribution. It was a time to celebrate diversity; a moment to feel that sense of pride for simply “being”. The crowds that lined the street were a mixture of gay, straight, old, young, married, single and families with children. All were swept up in the celebratory atmosphere.
It was an amazing two days of celebration of the freedom to express who you are as an individual and your right to choose who it is you want to love; no matter your culture, your religion or your political persuasion. It was a time to follow the truth of one’s heart and simply be.