Airline to Sponsor San Francisco Pride Parade as Some Groups Withdraw Support

Employees of Virgin America march up Market Street in the San Francisco Pride Parade. Photo Credit: PRNewsFoto/Virgin America


Virgin America will serve as the “Official Airline of San Francisco Pride” for the ninth year in a row. Black Lives Matter, meanwhile, has decided not to participate because of controversial increased policing measures.

More than 500 Virgin America employees, friends, and family will be joined by HIV Activist and “Mean Girls” and “Looking” actor Daniel Franzese at the 46th Annual San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade.

San Francisco Pride is reputedly the largest pride event in the United States if not the world.

The airline will share the pride experience online with the hashtag #VXPride. Airline travelers from all over the United  States are encouraged to do the same.

LGBT travelers can fly with pride on the “Official Airline of San Francisco Pride.”

The airline, which is based at San Francisco International Airport, has a long standing commitment to LGBT equality.

The airline also supports Bay Area non-profit LGBT organizations through San Francisco Pride’s Community Partners program.

“As an airline that encourages diversity and inclusion, celebrates differences, and has a long-standing commitment to equality, we’re looking forward to coming together and supporting the LGBT community at this world-class event,” says Frances Fiorillo, SVP of People and In-flight Service at Virgin America.

“This year’s San Francisco Pride Parade carries special meaning, given the recent tragic event in Orlando. As San Francisco’s hometown airline, we’re proud to stand in solidarity and share a message of love, equality and respect for everyone.”

Black Lives Matter

An announcement was made on 20 June that there would be a significant police presence at this year’s pride events in San Francisco because of safety concerns following the attack at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, which left 49 people dead and more people injured.

According to the statement, attendees will have to pass through security screening and metal detectors for the first time in the celebration’s 46-year history.

“There will be a significant police presence at all Pride activities in the city, with both uniformed and plain clothes officers on duty to monitor the events,” San Francisco Pride statement says.

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility, including participants, organizers, security staff and law enforcement.”

The measures have drawn fire from many LGBT people of colour, who say they have long been targeted and harassed by the police in San Francisco.

As a result, they plan to boycott the event.

“For us, celebrating Pride this year meant choosing between the threat of homophobic vigilante violence and the threat of police violence,” says a statement issued by Black Lives Matter, a sex workers advocacy group, and two grand marshals.

“We had a tough decision to make, and ultimately we chose to keep our people safe by not participating in any event that would leave our communities vulnerable to either.”

Grand Marshal Janetta Johnson, Executive Director of the TGI Justice Project, explained her decision to withdraw from the parade:

“While I am thankful for this honour and grateful to Pride for bringing our work to the front this year, the decision to add more police to Pride does not make me, or my community, more safe,” she said in a statement.

Racial and economic justice is the theme of this year’s San Francisco Pride Parade.

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