Pink Saturday moves ahead under new stewards

After 19 years of hosting the Pink Saturday street party in San Francisco’s Castro District, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are passing the baton to the San Francisco LGBT Center.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence said “an escalation in violence” associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) event led them to rethink their involvement.

In February, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a non-profit group that not only strives to promote human rights and respect for diversity, but also promoted and organized Pink Saturday for 19 years, announced that they would not be producing the event in 2015.

Sister Selma Soul, a coordinator of the event for the last three years, said the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have been convinced that the event needed to significantly change if they were to produce it again. Sister Selma Soul said even after meeting numerous times with city officials and community members there was no clear vision to address the concerns voiced by the community, volunteers and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’s members.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence voted to suspend production and not apply for the necessary permit to close Castro Street to vehicles on June 27, 2015. Sister Selma Soul said in a statement that:

“As a group composed solely of volunteers with no paid staff, the challenges that have grown with the event are simply too great for our organization to address.”

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, however, said they would offer their support to any organization that decides to hold the event, but said in a statement that they:

“… will not participate in a capacity that would put the physical safety of our members and volunteers at risk that evening.”

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener announced that the SF LGBT Center, a non-profit organization that serves the San Francisco LGBT community, would be putting on Pink Saturday this year, with funding assistance from The City.

According to Wiener’s office, because the street party has encountered public safety challenges, the SF LGBT Center in partnership with the City, will be increasing security and ending the event at an earlier time.

Mayor Lee said the “City’s Pride celebration brings hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to celebrate with us” and that the Pink Saturday tradition will continue to be a place where the city “embraces and celebrates diversity.”

SF LGBT Center executive director Rebecca Rolfe said she is honored to continue Pink Saturday, a tradition that for many, is an:

“… accessible opportunity to honor the importance of being our authentic selves and to connect with LGBT people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds.”