The 1999 Pride theme was “Celebrate the Past, Create the Future.” It was the 30th anniversary of Stonewall, and San Diego Pride was getting ready to celebrate its 25th consecutive Pride.* The theme was indicative of the organization’s commitment to the history of San Diego Pride. In keeping with the theme, the Pride program included scattered bits of LGBT historical trivia, and long-time Pride activists Doug Moore and Jeri Dilno were honored with Lifetime Achievement awards.

*There was still some debate about whether 1974 or 1975 was the “first” San Diego Pride, and information about the Pride events in 1973, 1971, and 1970 had been lost. (See also: 1989 for further explanation.)

We’ll Be Singing
It looked like it would be a great year for San Diego Pride. The parade and festival continued to grow and the rally was moved to the Center’s new location on Centre Street. Furthermore, the community was once again united against a common cause, the defeat of the Knight Initiative, which would limit marriage to heterosexual couples. Things were looking up for the organization.

Betty DeGeneres was the parade Grand Marshal. The mother of out comedienne Ellen DeGeneres had recently completed a book about her relationship with her daughter and the process of coming to terms with her daughter’s sexuality. She went on to become very active in PFLAG and a spokeswoman for the Human Rights Coalition. Her outspoken defense of LGBT rights endeared her to the community.

We Get Knocked Down
The parade started at noon and was well underway when a tear gas bomb was thrown into the crowd near Tenth and University as the Family Matters Contingent was passing by. Chaos ensued as people rushed to get away from the danger, and others tried to run to the aid of the victims. Nicole Murray-Ramirez remembers providing commentary from the reviewing stand nearby when the attack occurred and knew what had happened based on previous experiences with tear gas.
Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured, although many people suffered from the effects of the tear gas, which attacks the mucus membranes of the lungs, throat, nose and, of course, the eyes, hence the name. The attacker was never arrested. People interviewed for this history have claimed that while the police had a strong suspect, there wasn’t enough evidence for an arrest.

But We Get Up Again
The parade was temporarily disrupted while people received medical care and the police investigated the scene. Eventually however, the parade continued and the celebration continued for the rest of the weekend at the festival site. However, the attack was a reminder that, despite all the progress that had been made, there were still people out there who were a danger to the community.