The Official Band of San Francisco Has a New Name

The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band is now the San Francisco Pride Band. We are updating our name to emphasize that we welcome all members of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies across the spectrum of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to make our support for our trans and nonbinary members clear – this matters now more than ever, as politicians across the U.S. push transphobic agendas.

When Jon Sims founded the band in 1978 he named it the “San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps.” In the nineties, the band adopted the moniker of “San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band” to more explicitly include the lesbian women in the band’s membership. Lesbians had been a part of the band since the very beginning, and by this time their numbers and roles in leadership had grown. Making their presence more explicit in the name of the group was a logical evolutionary move. 

Now we’re taking another step towards inclusivity. The band’s mission has always been to make the LGBTQ+ community more visible, and to use music and performance to forge bonds with the community. As the San Francisco Pride Band, we are committed to making sure that community includes everyone. 

We arrived at this name after almost a year of thought and discussion. We wanted to choose a name that everyone in the band could feel proud of, and that meant making sure that we listened to feedback from band membership. We also looked to the other LGBTQ+ musical groups that are part of the global Pride Bands Alliance, many of whom have undergone similar name changes in the last several years.

This change dovetails with our other efforts to promote inclusivity, such as our commission program for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) composers. Since we established the BIPOC Commission Program, the band has commissioned and premiered two pieces from two talented composers, Roger Zare and Mattea Williams, with additional pieces in the works for later in 2024 and 2025. 

We are more excited than ever to march in this year’s Pride parade under our new name, and to welcome the community to our fall concert and the Dance-Along Nutcracker® later this year. Lastly, this summer we’re working on updating our logo and visual identity, so you can expect to hear more later in 2024 or early 2025!