Only in San Francisco. Equality for all. Pride and freedom. Respect and tolerance. Those words say a lot about a place called San Francisco.
Historically and culturally, San Francisco has been waving the flag (albeit not the rainbow version created here in 1978) for more than 150 years. Historians note the emergence of a gay population during the Gold Rush and the days of the Barbary Coast. Today San Francisco has one of the highest per capita gay populations in the world.
Notable LGBT landmarks include the Pink Triangle Park, Castro and Market; the National AIDS Memorial Grove, Golden Gate Park; LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market St.; the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center at the Main Library, 100 Larkin St.; and Harvey Milk Plaza, where a 20- by 30-foot-long rainbow flag flies at the corner of Market and Castro. Walking tours of famous landmarks in the Castro are available.
The GLBT Historical Society (glbthistory.org) marked its 25th anniversary by expanding to a second location in the heart of the Castro at 4127 18th St. The inaugural exhibition, “Our Vast Queer Past: Celebrating Queer History,” is divided into 25 sections, highlighting key themes in GLBT history by focusing on objects acquired in every one of the 25 years since the founding of the organization.
San Francisco is the home of the first lesbian organization in the U.S., The Daughters of Bilitis founded in 1955; in 1961 the first openly gay political candidate, Jose Sarria; the first Gay Games; the first openly gay men’s chorus, mixed gay chorus, marching band and community theater; the Golden Gate Business Association, the first LGBT chamber of commerce. In 2004 San Francisco was the first U.S. city to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
San Francisco was named the top gay-friendly destination in the U.S. and Canada in a national survey conducted by the Travel Industry Association in 2006. In May of 2009 San Francisco was named Favorite Domestic Destination in the 2009 Gay.com Travel Awards poll. More than 25,000 votes were cast.
Out and About
There are hundreds of events that add to the LGBT experience in San Francisco. Pride Month is June. The annual parade and celebration on the final weekend draws 500,000 or more, making it one of the largest events in California and the largest pride parade in the world. The renowned International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival is also held in June.
Other annual events include Up Your Alley (August), the Folsom Street Fair, held the last Sunday in September; the Castro Street Fair always the first Sunday in October; and Sundance Stompede (October), a Country Western weekend for the LGBT community. San Francisco is also home to the “wackiest Nutcracker on earth,” the annual Dance-Along Nutcracker performed by the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band.
Out with the Locals
Looking for some “insider tips” from Bay Area residents? Check out the online feature, “Out with the Locals”. Dozens of San Francisco cognoscenti share their top picks on what to see and do, including their most memorable “Only in San Francisco” experience.
Meet the Neighbors
While visitors to San Francisco continue to stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge, take the ferry to Alcatraz, board the cable cars and flock to Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown and Union Square, they are widening their search for the essence of San Francisco to the neighborhoods. Just as seasoned San Franciscans do, they become conversant on the distinctions, changes in tone and topography, between the “lower and upper,” the “north of and west of” and “outer and inner” areas of well-known streets and districts.
Among the neighborhoods popping up more frequently on itineraries are the Mission District, the Haight-Ashbury (especially an area north of Golden Gate Park’s “panhandle” called NoPa), and the Fillmore/Japantown area. The Tenderloin is also home to a new crop of bars and clubs.
Bring a capacious appetite to this culinary capital as well. To experience each of San Francisco’s 3,000-plus restaurants, one would have to dine in a different restaurant every day for more than eight consecutive years, and still miss a few on the ever-changing list.
Planning a Meeting
It may be our amazing views of the Pacific Ocean at sunset or our unique city skyline; either way, San Francisco has been host to many professional meetings, conferences, seminars, and events. Here is a list of meetings and events we’ve had the privilege of working with:
• National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
• National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association
• National Lesbian & Gay Law Association
• International Conference on Gay & Lesbian Tourism
• The PRIDE Business Expo
If you are interested in having your meeting in San Francisco, please contact:
Director of Convention Sales
You may also submit your request directly through our lead database to book a meeting, please complete the information located on this page of our web site.
Trying to find a venue for your meeting? Complete our venue form.
For more information about hosting a meeting in San Francisco, our services, and who to contact, visit our Meeting and Event Planners web site.
What’s Going On
Thousands of stories are written about San Francisco each year. Our dedicated Public Relations division works with travel writers and journalists to make each article unique. View our recent LGBT press releases.
For a more comprehensive list of what’s going on in San Francisco within the gay and lesbian community, visit our Gay and Lesbian travel web site. You’ll find a calendar of events, history & information, gay icons, and tools to help you plan your next trip.
Find Gay Welcoming, TAG Approved® Hotels in San Francisco
With more than 1,600 members, the San Francisco Travel Association (SFTA) is one of the largest membership-based tourism promotion agencies in the country. The SFTA business offices are located at 201 Third St., Suite 900, San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-974-6900, www.sanfrancisco.travel.
At the SFTA a team of destination experts familiar with the tourism industry and the needs of the profession is available to assist with lead services, destination information, promotional materials and itinerary planning.
The association also operates the Visitor Information Center at Hallidie Plaza, 900 Market St. For information call 415-391-2000.
The SFTA continues its LGBT tourism efforts in concert with official sponsor American Express and community partner the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA), the country’s first LGBT Chamber of Commerce.