Thousands celebrate San Diego Pride weekend - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Thousands celebrate San Diego Pride weekend

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Forty years ago, San Diego held its first Pride celebration. It wasn't big, just a yard sale and potluck dinner, finished by a walk to Balboa Park. Today, we went down to the festivities and boy has it come a long way.

Whether it was the parade, or whether it was the people, it was clear there was a party on the streets of Hillcrest and it was called Pride.

"Oh my gosh I could not be prouder to be walking in the parade,” Valerie Lacaba said. “Oh my gosh. I live in this neighborhood and I'm so proud to support and everyone wants to love here and get married here and all of the above."

For Leslie Gomez, this was like nothing she's ever seen.

"I'm from a smaller state and town and they don't do that much but here it's just magnificent. I can't express how many words I have just with this parade," Gomez said.

She brought some free hugs to hand out and it's that kind of attitude that is perfect for Pride.

"Love is love...it's just showing that stronger connection to someone else that you don't know and it makes them smile," Gomez said.

This year’s celebration was special. It was titled "Reflections of Pride" since it was the city's 40th year doing it. Public relations manager Cal Strode told us just how far it's come.

"If you think back to the 1970's, when the first pride marches happened, it was just about 200 people marching in downtown San Diego,” Strode said. “Many had bags over their heads because they feared losing their jobs, and their families being extradited from the communities they were apart of."

For this Pride, organizers expected between 300,000 and 400,000 visitors and it took hundreds of volunteers too.

"We get to enjoy a huge parade, a huge festival, and that wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for the activists who went before us,” Strode said. “So for me it's about remembering the people whose shoulders we stand on today."

One person that grabbed our attention was Mike Jorgenson. He's with the Trevor Project, an organization that reaches out to LGBT youth who are having a hard time.

"Love and acceptance, it's ok to ask for help. And there are people there for you, you are never alone," Jorgensen said.

And the people and parade at this year's Pride, prove that.

"Pride's just about being whoever you want to be, and loving whoever you want to love," Strode said.

The festivities continue Sunday at Balboa Park. They've got a huge concert set up and a number of bands will be playing. The headliner for Sunday is R&B singer Deborah Cox.

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