Voices of Pride

Made for San Francisco Pride 2021. The personal stories and reflections of this year’s Grand Marshals come together to tell the story of the Pride journey on both an individual and a collective level, with an interpretive dance interwoven throughout to represent the historically unheard voices and personal struggles of the LGBTQI+ community.

Director’s Vision

Making Voices of Pride was a true honor and a deeply fulfilling experience for us. The San Francisco Pride parade was canceled again this year due to the pandemic, but the organization pivoted and moved the celebration to Oracle Park for a lovely movie night. Our task? To make a film presenting the 2021 Grand Marshals, in the context of this year’s theme for the event: “All in this together.”
Even at the conceptual level, this was truly a team effort. My partner, Luke, had this idea to have the Marshals presented against colored backgrounds; our producer, Laura, thought of the beautiful, flowy fabrics; and I matched each of the Marshals to the different colors of the Pride flag, based on their backgrounds and stories. The idea was to have intimate, profound portraits with voiceovers, but Luke and I knew we needed something else, something to weave it all together. The idea of an interpretive dance arose quickly, and we knew it had to be on Market St., following the usual direction of the parade.

As I did some more digging on the different Pride colors, especially the ones that have been added recently to represent the historically unheard voices of this movement (people of color and trans people), I knew this needed to be the focus of the dance. So we chose light pink and light blue for our dancer, Tajh. Then, I worked with Tajh to create a dance that portrayed the different meanings of the Pride flag as a personal progression of the Pride journey. “Life”, being the beginning of existence in the womb; “healing”, the discovery of the body after birth; “sunlight”, the first encounter with the sun; “nature”, the battle with outside forces that try to oppose us; “peace”, the first moment of calm after the storm; “spirit”, finally achieving full self-expression and self-love, and encountering others in that space of love and celebration.

The song was a big part of it. I have a personal weakness for Philip Glass, and I noticed Glassworks: I. Opening struck the perfect balance of nostalgia and hope. Because of this, we played this piece as we were shooting the portraits of the Marshals, while I guided them with a meditative reflection on their personal journeys. Needless to say, spending time with these humans was deeply impactful on many different levels. Every night I came home after shooting, I had my head full—in a good way. You become so much more aware of the depth and breadth of human kindness and compassion—and it’s beyond hopeful and inspiring.

We made Voices of Pride with love and we made it for love. Ultimately, we hope this film inspires kindness and understanding in whoever sees it, wherever they are.