Mark Zuckerberg surprised thousands of parade watchers at yesterday’s San rousing Francisco Pride Parade, appearing alongside more than 700 Facebook employees. The Facebook CEO rode in a motorized San Francisco cable car, while stamping the hands of some thrilled parade watchers with the imprint of a Facebook “like” stamp.
Now in its 43rd year, San Francisco Pride drew a record 1.5 million to the parade that runs along the city’s Market Street to Civic Center. The well liked Facebook founder and CEO shared the cable car with former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, a high profile supporter of GLBT rights. Leading the cable car was a group of gay and lesbian Facebook employees who carried a banner reading gay@Facebook – Facebook’s LGBT employee group.
The event was made far more significant after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled just days prior, the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and dismissed Proposition 8. Two days later, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a surprise order to resume same sex marriage in California, prompting couples to quickly get married at San Francisco’s City Hall. Among the first to get married were lead plaintiffs against Proposition 8, Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier. The couple was joined at yesterday by fellow plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarillo, who exchanged their wedding vows in Los Angeles.
The massive celebration featured more than 20 stages and venues, 300 exhibitors, and 200 parade contingents, including celebrity grand marshals such as TV personalities Tabatha Coffey of Bravo’s “Tabatha Takes Over” and Alex Newell from “Glee” and Kamala Harris, the California Attorney General, who along with Governor Jerry Brown, refused to implement Proposition 8. Many other prominent politicians were in the parade, such as Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Ed Lee, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, openly gay Senator Mark Leno, Mark Takano, the first elected openly gay congressman in California and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsome, who in 2004 first gained national attention by allowing gay marriages in San Francisco.
Throughout the day, the crowd, a collection of euphoric members of the LGBT and celebrated San Francisco Pride’s most significant event and the largest street party ever in the city. Among the performers who appeared were former American Idol finalist Kimberly Caldwell, Cheer SF and other cheerleading squads across the state, cast members of the Broadway musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Peaches and Herb, whose 1980 hit, “Reunited” rocketed them to stardom.
Even with a wealth of celebrities, musical acts and the clearly jubilant parade contingent rejoicing the Supreme Court decisions, one of the more memorable images from San Francisco Pride was Mark Zuckerberg, who has been under fire for political ads launched through lobbying group he leads, Fwd.us. While some many industry analysts have criticized the group’s ads on the Keystone XL Pipeline and oil drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, his appearance at San Francisco Pride appears to have been widely applauded from both the media and members of Facebook.