San Francisco Pride has officially canceled this year's Pride celebrations set to take place in June.
Organizers decided to cancel the events, the largest on the West Coast, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement today came after the groups behind a slew of other LGBTQ events announced they'd be postponing or canceling their festivities.
The annual observance brings in nearly 500,000 people every year and distributes around $2.5 million to local nonprofits and community partners, reports 48Hills.org, a local news publication.
According to organizers, they were left with very little choices.
"We're heartbroken," Fred Lopez, executive director at S.F. Pride, tells The Advocate. "We understand it's disappointing. We know people were looking forward to a real celebration, especially after being stuck inside for so long, and that Pride really means something for people. It's always someone's first Pride. We will find a way to continue to support LGBTQ youth and our elders as we move forward."
As is the case for many LGBTQ organizations since the onset of the pandemic, Lopez explains that his team evaluated all their options and it came down to the "uncertainty around when the restrictions around large-scale gatherings will be lifted."
Since there was no real answer, it became impossible to move forward with the festivities.
"We understand this was a major decision with huge implications," Lopez says. "We understand that Pride is really important not only to the LGBTQ community, but to the overall culture of San Francisco. We didn't take this decision at all lightly."
"First and foremost, more than anything, the health and well-being of our attendees was the number 1 priority -- and the main consideration in any and all of our deliberations," he continues. "Being unsure of when the restrictions will be lifted and not knowing when we'll be able to go out, we'd hate for people to get sick as a result of our event."
In the next week, Lopez says his team will be working on possible alternatives.
"Even though we're not allowed to gather in person, it is still the 50th anniversary of San Francisco Pride, and we plan on commemorating it in any way we can," Lopez explains. "That includes [exploring] online and digital platforms."
"We know we're not the only ones facing these hard decisions," he adds. "Small businesses across the world are facing similar challenges."
Learn more about San Francisco Pride's work at SFPride.org.