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Apple Pride

Started: 2022-07-03 12:02:46

Submitted: 2022-07-03 23:56:11

Visibility: World-readable

Joining Apple for the Pride parade in San Francisco

After two years' hiatus caused by a certain global pandemic, this year the San Francisco Pride Parade returned to Market Street, covering the entire stretch from the Ferry Building to Civic Center in rainbows and slightly-sterile rainbow-washed corporate logos. This year I signed up to join Apple's contingent in Pride, echoing my participation in Google's Pride contingent in 2018.

This meant I had to make my way to San Francisco on Sunday morning, 26th June, to join the start of the parade in front of the Ferry Building. This time I decided to take a different transit route to the city: I drove to San Jose-Diridon Station to catch the special Caltrain service departing at 08:20, stopping at every station along the peninsula northbound into San Francisco. I arrived a little after 08:00, picked up a "Ride with Pride" sticker, and joined the rainbow-colored crowd on platform 4 waiting for the train to arrive.

Waiting for the Caltrain Pride special at San Jose Diridon
Waiting for the Caltrain Pride special at San Jose Diridon

There was a train waiting at platform 5, but the monitor showed the special service would depart at platform 4, and the station agent handing out the stickers told us the train would be on platform 4.

"Ride with Pride" Caltrain sticker

Just before the special train's scheduled departure time at 08:20, I spotted someone in the crowd talking to someone on the platform who seemed to indicate that the train on platform 5 was actually the right train that we should take. They boarded the train, and there was a moment of uncertainty as the crowd discovered (too late) that this was actually the train we were supposed to be taking. We politely flowed towards the doors but we were not aggressive enough: the carriage door slid closed right in front of me and (right at 08:20) the train started moving north, with the rest of the crowd standing on the platform shocked to see the train leave without us.

Caltrain Pride special leaves San Jose Diridon
Caltrain Pride special leaves San Jose Diridon

I do feel like the train's conductor should have been curious enough to wonder: Why is there a big crowd of people on the platform staring expectantly at the wrong platform? Should we make sure the people on the platform know that this is the train they're actually waiting to take?

The station agent appeared to apologize and let us know the next train would be in 50 minutes. That seemed like a long time to wait, so I cross-referenced the train's schedule versus drive times to various stations and decided I could catch the train at Redwood City. I drove north, parked and paid for parking at the station, and crossed the tracks to the northbound platform just ahead of the northbound train entering the station. I walked up to the last carriage (just ahead of the diesel locomotive on the south end of the train) and boarded the train through the same door that had closed in front of me 45 minutes earlier in San Jose.

Caltrain Pride special stops at Redwood City
Caltrain Pride special stops at Redwood City

Inside the train was already standing-room-only. I found an awkward perch on the end of a row of seats where I could brace myself as the train accelerated. (The diesel traction, though, accelerated more slowly than the electric traction I'm used to on BART.) Redwood City might have been the last stop where substantial numbers of passengers could board; as we traveled north the train stopped at every station but even the vestibules were were full so people were left behind on the platforms.

We arrived in San Francisco right on schedule at 10:00 and spilled out into the crowded station concourse and from there onto the sidewalks. I needed to get to the start of the parade, a pleasant half-hour's walk from the station along the streets of SoMa. (There was MUNI metro service that would have taken me right there, but it seemed like it would be crowded so I didn't try.) A few blocks from the station the crowds had abated and I was alone on the sidewalk; then I crossed under the Bay Bridge and I began to see people again. I walked past the Google Pride check-in on Spear Street to the Landmark Building to check in for my entry in the parade.

Walking down Spear Street towards Pride
Walking down Spear Street towards Pride

Apple had taken over the atrium of the Landmark Building (the old brick-clad Southern Pacific headquarters building at the end of Market Street, now built into a complex with two high-rise towers on Spear and Steuart streets with a large atrium in the middle). I checked in, picked up my Apple Pride t-shirt, and ate a second breakfast (catered by the Landmark Building) to fortify myself for the parade.

Jaeger wearing Apple Pride
Jaeger wearing Apple Pride

After a couple of minutes we were guided out into the staging area on Steuart Street. The clouds were parting and the sun was coming out. I picked up a rainbow flag to wave and settled in to wait to begin the parade.

Apple Pride assembles on Steuart St
Apple Pride assembles on Steuart St

We didn't actually spend much time standing on the street before the crowd walked forwards, turning the corner onto Market Street with the Ferry Building behind us.

Apple Pride in front of the Ferry Building
Apple Pride in front of the Ferry Building

From the end of Market Street it was hard to tell where the parade really began. We stood in the street between the high-rise buildings, looking down to the end of Market Street where the fog obscured the hills in the center of the city. At some point we advanced to the point where spectators were lining the barricades at either side of the street and cheering us on as we started the long walk towards Civic Center.

Apple Pride starts down Market Street
Apple Pride starts down Market Street

The San Francisco Federal Reserve had the answer to a question I didn't know I had: When flying a US flag, a pride flag, and a Golden State Warriors flag on the same flag pole, what order should they fly? The answer was obvious: the US flag on top, pride in the middle, and Golden State on the bottom. (The Golden State Warriors flag was probably left over from the team's victory parade a week earlier.)

Apple Pride passes 388 Market Street
Apple Pride passes 388 Market Street

Most of the Apple Pride contingent was dominated by people on foot with matching t-shirts, but the dance music soundtrack was provided by a series of carts (bearing the same Apple Pride logo on the side) carrying large speakers. (All of the speakers were in sync so they must have been coordinated by radio.) The carts drove with the people at a walking pace, escorted by people who cleared a way for the cart when the cart wanted to go faster than the crowd. (It wasn't clear what the cart's operational posture was: should it be holding at specific points in the crowd, or was it trying to affect the speed of the crowd?)

Apple Pride-mobile
Apple Pride-mobile

From my position in the middle of the parade, it felt like the Apple contingent moved at a reasonable speed: most of the time we were at a reasonable walking pace, and we didn't spend much time stopped.

Spectators watch Apple Pride on Market Street
Spectators watch Apple Pride on Market Street

I kept my mask on for most of the parade; even though we were outside there were still plenty of people within arm's reach. As we approached mid-market the crowd thinned out enough that I took off my mask for a couple of blocks.

Jaeger with Apple Pride
Jaeger with Apple Pride

The parade was two days after the SCOTUS decision in Dobbs, striking down 50 years of settled law, overturning Roe v. Wade in a single disastrous decision. (I'm old enough to remember when SCOTUS was expanding rights in its landmark decisions, not stripping bodily autonomy from people. Both of my children were alive in 2015 when the court decided Obergefell v. Hodges; I took their pictures (here's Calvin, and here's Julian) with the news headline in hopes that I could show them the day that the court ruled in favor of marriage equality, when they learned about the decision in their history classes.) There were some signs protesting the decision; the most popular was "Fuck SCOTUS", with "Bans off my body" a close second.

Then, at length, we reached the end of the parade. The vehicles turned off to the left and the people were funneled into a chute off to the side that ended in a mess of crowded streets that would eventually lead to the festival in Civic Center. I didn't really feel inclined to go to the festival so I turned left, crossed Market Street, and ended up taking a long detour around the block to Mission Street before coming back to Market Street. I watched a couple minutes of the parade, just long enough to see the San Francisco police department contingent out of uniform (since the people who run Pride have entirely-reasonable objections to seeing a bunch of police officers in uniform, given their exercise of state-sponsored violence and oppression against the very people that Pride is supposed to support).

San Francisco Fire Department at Pride
San Francisco Fire Department at Pride

Next in line was the fire department, which was better received by the crowd.

I walked up Market Street to Powell Street and caught a BART train to the Mission, where I ate lunch at Curry Up Now at their outdoor parklet. (It was early afternoon and wasn't yet hungry after second breakfast, but it seemed like I ought to eat before heading back home.) I got confusing messages from the Google Maps transit planner on my phone about when I ought to leave to catch BART to Milbrae to transfer to Caltrain; I decided I had enough time drop by Dolores Park to enjoy the bright sunny day.

Dolores Park and the San Francisco skyline
Dolores Park and the San Francisco skyline

I timed my return trip wrong and ended up spending 15 minutes waiting for the BART train, and another 30 minutes waiting for Caltrain to catch the hourly all-stations stopping service down the peninsula to Redwood City. The train was comfortably full; I got a seat but almost every seat was full. I got boba tea in Redwood City then drove the rest of the way home to Santa Cruz.

Joining Apple for Pride was an important item on my todo list. I'm glad I had the opportunity to do so at this point in the pandemic.

A couple of days after Pride I got one more reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic isn't quite done with me yet: I got a "close contact" notification on my phone, indicating that it had exchanged a random id via Bluetooth with someone who later tested positive. (For reasons I don't understand, the notification unhelpfully tells me that the alleged contact happened on either 25th or 26th June. On the 25th I wandered around Santa Cruz; I assume I had much more opportunity for contact on the 26th, since that was the day I went to Pride.) It's not at all clear what I'm supposed to do with this notification, aside from stay out of the office for ten days following the hypothetical exposure.

I took more pictures of Pride than I included above; you can see them all at Photos on 2022-06-26.

The Journal Entries must continue.
- Me, in 01 November 1997 entry
(written 08 November 1997)