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Hillcrest Pride Flag flies high after Spirit of Stonewall Rally

(Editor's note: San Diego Pride said during the flag-raising ceremony that it would lower the flag to half-staff after the event out of respect to the shooting tragedy in Colorado, as requested by President Barack Obama. Pride also held a moment of silence for the victims in the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.)

SAN DIEGO – The long awaiting raising of the Hillcrest Pride Flag, following an inspirational Spirit of Stonewall Rally, was ushered up the 65-foot flagpole to sustained cheers and applause on Friday night.

The flagpole sits at the intersection of University and Normal Street, the traditional start of the annual San Diego Pride Parade.

Click HERE to read SDGLN Staff Writer Ben Cartwright’s in-depth report on the history of the Hillcrest Pride Flag project and who was involved .

Hundreds of people gathered on Normal Street, between Harvey Milk Street and University, to celebrate. Afterward, the first-ever Pride of Hillcrest Block Party with its booming DJ music got participants in the mood to celebrate.

Friday night’s events officially kick off San Diego Pride Week. The annual parade, expected to attract almost 200,000 spectators, begins at 11 am today. The highlight will be the historical first-ever marching in uniform by members of the military in a gay pride parade.

At the Spirit of Stonewall Rally, keynote speaker Dr. Clarence B. Jones was among those who got the crowd pumped up with inspirational stories. Jones, who is Scholar in Residence at Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Institute, said LGBT Americans deserved the same respect and treatment that every other American deserves.

Jones said the African-American church leaders who oppose marriage equality and LGBT rights need to “get over it!” And he repeated his mantra, told in an earlier interview with SDGLN, that:

“If God did not love gay people, then why did he make so many of them?”

San Diego Pride honored 11 individuals and groups during the Spirit of Stonewall Awards. They are:

Champions of Pride – State Sen. Christine Kehoe and Jerry Turner

This award is given to an individual or individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the LGBT community over an extended period of years, or who have made an exceptional contribution over the past year.

Friends of the Year – Dr. Aaron Bruce, Congresswoman Susan Davis and Tess Banko

This award is given to an individual or individuals who do not identify as LGBT, but who have stalwartly supported the LGBT community over an extended period of years or the past year.

Stonewall Service Award – Safe School Task Force and The Imperial Court de San Diego

This award is given to a group or organization, which may or may not identify as specifically LGBT, but which has greatly supported the community over an extended period of years and/or has made an exceptional contribution in the past year.

Community Service Award – Joe Foster, Joey Powers and Linda Perine

This award is given to an individual or individuals who are recognized as "up-and-coming" leaders within the community, or whose contributions to the community over the past year carried significant impact.

Lifetime Achievement Award (Posthumous) - Charles McKain

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to (877) 727-5446, ext. 713.