Thousands celebrate San Diego Pride

SAN DIEGO - Thousands turned out Saturday for the annual LGBT Pride Parade in Hillcrest and an associated music festival in Balboa Park.

The parade began at 11 a.m., and ran west along University Avenue from Normal Street, and turn south along Sixth Avenue to Balboa Park.

People wore colorful makeup and clothes to express themselves. Others like a group of service members wore gray shirts that read "serving with pride."

"I had to serve secretly and since I've been out changes have come," said Danielle Llamas. "Just seeing that … it's made me really proud."

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman also took part in the parade.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, the first lesbian and first San Diegan to run the lower chamber of the state Legislature, served as the grand marshal.

Organizers say people came from all over the world to attend.

"You go from a parade that started 40 years ago when the city wouldn't even issue permits to today when we have the D.A., speaker of state assembly, council president, school board president … really shows how far we've come in our fight for equality," said Council President Todd Gloria.

Among those who attended and marched were first responders like San Diego police, sheriff's deputies and firefighters.

"When we have straight allies, that means so much more," said Lauren Romano. "It means so much more to us … just to be accepted."

The two-day music festival at Marston Point, at Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street in Balboa Park, began at noon Saturday and will start again at 11 a.m. Sunday. Weekend passes cost $20.

Festival organizer Stephen Whitburn said this week that tickets have been sold to people in 25 states and eight countries.

R&B singer-songwriter Deborah Cox will be the headline performer, taking the stage Sunday at 7:15 p.m.

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