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San Francisco Pride

Photos: This SF Pride we made it clear that LGBTQ+ includes the blind and disabled

It’s not every day that we get to march freely down the middle of Market Street with our canes wrapped in multi-colored ribbon. But on Sunday, we took to the streets for the 2018 SF Pride parade with a rainbow-clad pan-disability contingent of more than 150 people with disabilities and our allies. To our knowledge this is the largest-ever group of disability supporters to march in San Francisco Pride.

This year’s contingent was a true testament to the shared experience of having a disability, whatever it may be, and the subsequent empowerment that comes with being seen and celebrating that identity. We’d like to extend a warm thank you to the staff, volunteers, community supporters and our sponsors, Mental Health Association San Francisco and The Arc San Francisco, who marched with us and made this a truly celebratory day.

We’re still selling our beloved SF Pride T-shirts in the Adaptations Store! Support LightHouse and pick one up for next year’s parade for only $20.

Three volunteers in rainbow spandex hold the LightHouse banner while marching at the front of the contingent.
Three volunteers in rainbow spandex hold the LightHouse banner while marching at the front of the contingent.
A woman applies eyeshadow to a LightHouse contingent member with rainbow balloons in the background.
A woman applies eyeshadow to a fellow LightHouse contingent member with rainbow balloons in the background.
Two pride participants, one standing wearing the LightHouse shirt and wearing 'Ms. Wheelchair California' sash, prepare to march in the parade.
Two pride participants, one standing wearing the LightHouse shirt and the other wearing a ‘Ms. Wheelchair California’ sash, prepare to march in the parade.
A pride participant from Senior & Disability Action marches with our contingent, holding a 'Blind, Queer & Proud' sign.
A pride participant from Senior & Disability Action marches with our contingent, holding a ‘Blind, Queer & Proud’ sign.
Contingent members from The Arc San Francisco smile and pose before the parade begins.
Contingent members from The Arc San Francisco smile and pose before the parade begins.
A little girl wearing a tutu and fairy wings smiles and jumps into the air.
A little girl wearing a tutu and fairy wings smiles and jumps into the air.
A LightHouse student stands with his guide dog and a volunteer holding a sign that reads, "Shared history, shared struggles, shared liberation".
A LightHouse student stands with his guide dog and a volunteer holding a sign that reads, “Shared history, shared struggles, shared liberation”.
A contingent member from the Mental Health Association of San Francisco smiles and holds a sign that reads, "Disabled & Proud. I can have both."
A contingent member from the Mental Health Association of San Francisco smiles and holds a sign that reads, “Disabled & Proud. I can have both.”
A pride participant with a cane walk side by side in the midst of our large Pride contingent.
A pride participant with a cane walk side by side in the midst of our large Pride contingent.
A contingent member marches with a sign attached to their wheelchair that reads "Free our people."
A contingent member marches with a sign attached to their wheelchair that reads “Free our people.”
Two Pride participants in wheelchairs laugh while marching down market street with the contingent. One holds a sign that reads "Proud to be here."
Two Pride participants in wheelchairs laugh while marching down market street with the contingent. One holds a sign that reads “Proud to be here.”
LightHouse Pride organizer Laura Millar smiles while marching, with her white cane wrapped in rainbow ribbon.
LightHouse Pride organizer Laura Millar smiles while marching, with her white cane wrapped in rainbow ribbon.
Two rainbow-bedecked pride participants march side by side, one holding a sign that says "Proud of everything that we are."
Two rainbow-bedecked pride participants march side by side, one holding a sign that says “Proud of everything that we are.”
A french bulldog smiles while his owner, a LightHouse volunteer, holds him before the parade starts.
A french bulldog smiles while his owner, a LightHouse volunteer, holds him before the parade starts.

Who are our SF Pride sponsors and why do we march together?

Thanks to the support of community sponsors The Mental Health Association of San Francisco and The Arc San Francisco, we have organized a pan-disability contingent for San Francisco Pride 2018 ready to make a strong statement about intersecting identities in the LGBT+ community. 

Learn more about their reasons for marching with us below:


Meet the Mental Health Association of San Francisco

The Mental Health Association of San Francisco LogoQ: What is the mission of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco?

A: The mission of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF) is to cultivate peer leadership, build community and advance social justice in mental health.

Q: Why is the Mental Health Association of San Francisco a proud sponsor of the LightHouse Disability Pride contingent? 

A: MHASF is a proud sponsor of the LightHouse Disability Pride contingent because we care deeply about the mental health of the LGBTQ+ communities we serve. Many of us are LGBTQ+ identified ourselves and have personal experience of mental health challenges due to stigma, isolation, and discrimination. We support one another and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our community partners to raise awareness about disability pride, rights, and resources.

Q: How does the work your organization does connect with the work we’re doing here at LightHouse? 

A: Just as LGBTQ+ communities are not a monolith but a coalition of community partners with common goals and a shared vision, MHASF is a part of the larger community of disability advocates, including LightHouse. While the focus of our work may differ, our communities sometimes overlap, and MHASF is committed to promoting equality and self-reliance for people with mental health challenges, providing professional development and skills training, and amplifying the voices of people with lived experience.

Q: What does Disability Pride mean to you? 

A: At MHASF, Disability Pride means bringing our whole selves to all we do and celebrating all of what makes us who we are. For many of us, our mental health conditions and histories have played an important role in making us the amazing, compassionate, resilient people we are today. We are proud of all we’ve accomplished, alone and together, and we want to share that pride with our community.

A: The first Pride was a riot. How can we keep this activist legacy in Pride and stay true to the spirit of the event? 

Q: Our goal at MHASF is to advocate when possible — and agitate when necessary! Pride is a celebration of everything LGBTQ+ communities have accomplished, but now more than ever, we recognize that we can’t afford to be complacent, especially when it comes to our rights and our mental health. MHASF is proud to stand with LightHouse and other members of the Disability Pride contingent to support each other and call out injustice wherever we find it.


Meet The Arc San Francisco

The Arc San Francisco Logo

Q: What is the mission of The Arc San Francisco?

A: Our mission is to transform the lives of adults with developmental disabilities by advancing lifelong learning, personal achievement and independence. Our full name is The Arc San Francisco. The “arc” in our name represents the arc of achievement. We believe that with the right support, over time, people with developmental disabilities can fulfill their highest potential, achieving personal goals and lifelong success — however it is personally defined. Our vision is to foster an inclusive world in which all people with developmental disabilities can thrive.

Q: Why is The Arc San Francisco a proud sponsor of the LightHouse Disability Pride contingent?

A: We are thrilled to be partnering with another organization that believes in the absolute equality of people with disabilities, and recognizes the intersectionality of people who have disabilities and are part of the LGBTQ community.

Q: How does the work your organization does connect to the work we’re doing here at LightHouse?

A: We have clients with developmental disabilities who are blind or have low vision. Both organizations recognize the full humanity of the people we serve which includes sexuality and sexual and gender identifications.

Q: What does Disability Pride mean to you?

A: Like LGBTQ Pride, we recognize that people with disabilities have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. People with disabilities are all born with unique gifts and talents to share, and have every right to fulfill dreams, achieve goals and participate fully in our communities.

Q: The first Pride was a riot. How can we keep this activist legacy in Pride and stay true to the spirit of the event?

A: It’s so important to recognize that The Stonewall Riots were a response by mostly drag queens, gender fluid people, and trans woman of color. They were what the police and US culture at the time thought were easy targets for bullying, harassment and abuse, and these revolutionaries had finally had enough. It’s a great story of how people who are ostracized, looked down on, shunned and seen as less than fully human can empower themselves, stand up, and demand justice and equality. By doing so, they not only liberate themselves, but all of us. People with disabilities experience so many of the same challenges that people who are LGBTQ face, and if you’re queer and disabled your challenges are even greater. By recognizing the true history of Pride we can learn from our achievements and empower everyone who is disenfranchised by our culture. We are not all free until everyone is free.

To sign up to march or learn more about our SF Pride Disability Contingent, visit lighthouse-sf.org/sf-pride-2018.

Mark Your Calendars for San Francisco PRIDE 2018

We are excited to announce that LightHouse will march in the 48th annual San Francisco Pride Parade on Sunday, June 24th! The San Francisco Pride Parade’s mission is to educate the world, commemorate LGBT+ heritage, celebrate LGBT+ culture, and liberate LGBT+ people. This aligns with LightHouse’s mission to promote equality and self-reliance for people who are blind or visually impaired, and promotes the visibility of LGBT+ blind and disabled people.

The LightHouse is committed to inclusivity. Blindness intersects with every single identity, and we recognize the need to amplify the voices of disabled LGBT+ people and our community members. LightHouse is proud to open our doors and extend an invitation to all disabled LGBT+ community members, their families, friends, allies and the organizations that serve them. Join us as we celebrate the intersectionality of people who are blind, have low vision, have other disabilities, and the many community members who identify with both communities or actively want to support LGBT+ visibility. It’s a central part of our blind experience to be seen, be heard and to be proud of who we are!

Find out the many ways individuals can participate by visiting our Eventbrite page and signing up today. The first 100 people who sign up will receive a free Be Seen PRIDE 2018 t-shirt, to be handed out the day of PRIDE. We would like to extend an invitation to community partners to join us to make this a collaborative cross disability experience. For community based organizations interested in partnering with LightHouse’s cross disability contingent, individual questions, or help signing up on Eventbrite, please contact Laura Millar, Sexual Health Services Program Coordinator at lmillar@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7345.

For all volunteer related questions contact Allyson Ferrari, Volunteer Engagement Specialist at aferrari@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-694-7320.

Make sure you sign up today on our Eventbrite page and #beseen with us, as we celebrate diversity at this year’s 48th annual PRIDE parade!

#BeSeen in the Streets: Photos from Pride 2017

We’d like to express our gratitude to everyone who marched with us in San Francisco Pride on Sunday. Our contingent added up to more than 100 people. It was an empowering and joyful day and we’ve got the photos to show for it!

Serena Olsen wears a Rosie the Riveter headscarf and raises her hand proudly above her head as she marches with her white cane. Photo by Sarahbeth Maney.
Renae Davidson, Jordan Castor, and Ashley Butala smile and  laugh as they march together. Photo by Sarahbeth Maney.
Volunteers Rochelle Quinney and her friends and family hold the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired banner. Photo by Sarahbeth Maney.
Kate Williams smiles and high-fives spectators along the parade route.
Vanessa Brash and Philip Berg march together. Vanessa holds a large with sign that says “Love” in text and braille. Photo by Sarahbeth Maney.
Melissa Hadiyanto and Robert Alminana walk arm in arm. Photo by Sarahbeth Maney.
Robert Alminana smiles and holds a sign that says “The first Pride was a riot”.
A black lab guide dog sits at the feet of his owner, who wears neon rainbow knee-high socks.
A girl wearing a Pikachu hat jumps into the air in front of the LightHouse banner while bubbles float around her.
Lisamaria Martinez carries her infant daughter while holding a “Blind and Proud” sign in one hand and her white cane in the other. Her husband Joe Bakker pushes a stroller in the background.
The LightHouse group marches down Market Street holding rainbow signs that say “Blind and Proud”.
Serena Garcia and Gaby Leal walk together down Market Street. Serena holds her hand high.
Joshua York and Laura Millar smile while marching alongside the LightHouse van. Laura holds a sign that reads “Blind and Proud”.

A Blind Poet in the LightHouse Studio: Watch “Vision” by Leah Gardner

“I’m a woman who’s a blind, depressed lesbian,” says Leah Gardner, with a good-humored chuckle. “That’s who I am. That’s my reality and I’m okay with it.”

Leah is also a part-time tech trainer at LightHouse and a slam poet. She will be marching with our San Francisco Pride Contingent this Sunday, June 25 to #BeSeen.

Leah hasn’t participated in Pride in about 15 years — since she was a young poet in New Hampshire and Vermont — but when she heard about our blind and visually impaired contingent from our weekly newsletter, she decided it was time to march again. In her late 20s, marching in Pride offered her a lot of hope, along with a sense acceptance and celebration in who she was and what she offered to a community. After a tough couple of years, Leah is ready to feel that hope again.

“There’s a lot of excitement building for me, just in terms of being part of this,” she says. “Every time that I participated in the New Hampshire and Vermont marches, it was with wonderful friends but they were all sighted. It was not part of a visually impaired community, as key to me as that was in my life. This year carries this newness to it. It will be a completely original experience of sharing this day with people who are also blind and GLBTQ. So I’m really energized.”

We’re asking folks to use the hashtag #BeSeen and think about what that means in the context of Pride.

“I think a lot of people are very comfortable with talking about sexuality but the vision loss and the reality of that creates a lot of shame,” says Leah. “And in my case I also deal with severe depression, which adds some challenges in finding a way to form bonds with other people. We all have some shame about something, some facet of our personality. This ‘Being Seen’ concept to me has become about saying no to that shame.”

And Leah is no stranger to thinking about the intersection of blindness and sexuality. One of the poems she has performed most over the years is a poem called “Vision” about a gay friend who was losing his sight. The poem unpacks the shame and fear that often accompanies both sexuality and disability, and is a testament to the courage it takes to go through a world that isn’t always kind to people it deems outside of the norm. In advance of San Francisco Pride, we asked Leah to perform “Vision” in the LightHouse studio. Watch the video below.

Leah will present this poem live at our “All Eyes on Allies: Pride Training and Community Building” on June 22 where she also discuss what it means to show up to Pride as an ally for people with multiple marginalized identities. This training will also teach volunteers how to be effective human guides.

We hope you’ll volunteer to be part of our contingent. Sign up to march with us on June 25 at our Eventbrite page.

The LightHouse Community to Join the 47th Annual PRIDE Parade

We’re excited to announce that LightHouse will march in the 47th annual San Francisco Pride parade on June 24th and 25th! On February 18th, we invite you to join us at the LightHouse headquarters at 6:00 p.m. to participate in a community led effort, get to know each other, share dinner together and discuss how we want to be represented in the parade, and the events leading up to Pride.

The San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade is the largest gathering of the LGBT community and allies in the nation. The mission of the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration Committee is to educate the world, commemorate LGBT heritage, celebrate LGBT culture, and liberate LGBT people.

The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is proud to support this mission and invites our LGBT community members, their families and allies to join the LightHouse and participate in this year’s Pride parade and events leading up to the parade!

We need your participation, but first we need your voice!  Please tell us how YOU would like to participate by filling out the 3 question survey in the “Community Pulse Check” below and attending the kick off dinner to share your ideas.

Please email Laura Millar at lmillar@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-694-7345 to RSVP for the kickoff and planning dinner, February 18 at LightHouse.

Community Pulse Check

Welcome to our first community pulse check!  The community pulse check is a short poll that will help us better understand the community we serve at the LightHouse and to hear your voice. Fill out the survey below or visit the external link to submit your input!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LHPRIDECommunityPulseCheck
Create your own user feedback survey