Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Dykes on bikes. Mustaches galore. Lovers indulging in grassy slumber. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Welcome to San Francisco Pride – through the ages. From 1984 to 1990, newspaper photographer Saul Bromberger and his now-wife Sandra Hoover documented the San Francisco Pride celebration in a collection of black and white images that now serve as a time capsule into the watershed moments of the gay rights movement. The couple began taking photos of the Pride parade because they rightly believed they were witnessing history.
“It was this kind of test I was giving myself: Can we document this movement that is also a parade?” Saul told Mother Jones. Unlike other photographers, he didn’t “just see people jumping around and dancing,” he said. He saw people “demanding change.”
In the midst of the AIDS crisis, San Francisco Pride festivities were filled with both joy and rage, and understandably so. Saul and Sandra understood the power of this emotional roller coaster. It’s a similar up-and-down ride that the LGBQ+ community faces today.
From marriage equality and greater trans visibility to the Pulse tragedy and fear in the Trump era, Pride continues to be a unifying moment, whether it’s celebrating because of the progress we’ve made or marching and protesting to make things better during turbulent times.
The writer of the Mother Jones article, Janet Kornblum, remembers riding the roller coaster back in the day – herself a lesbian who lived in San Francisco and met Saul and Sandy in 1988.
“The past lives and breathes in these photos,” she wrote. “And it’s important to remember history. It’s important to see ourselves from a distance, especially when the closet walls have fallen and here we are.”
View more of Saul and Sandy’s photographs from Pride, 1984 – 1990 here. And below is a video of SF Pride from the same time period, enjoy!