San Francisco’s Rainbow Lasers Will Return for Pride This Year

The “WELCOME” light display — a miles-long piece of artwork that spans down Market Street — is expected to return on June 23rd, helping cement San Francisco’s stance as a safe space for queer people. 

It’s Pride Month, which means San Francisco is again proudly displaying its moniker as the gay capital of the world. Market Street is danced with Pride flags; almost every storefront has some iteration of Pride-themed marketing that screams “Hi, gay!”; we’ve all surrendered to the idea that our dry January selves now exist in a vacuum chamber — a partition we’ll reopen sometime soon, but definitely not in June.

In 2022, Illuminate — the SF-based nonprofit responsible for many regional public light art installations, like the “Bay Lights,” which could return before the end of the year — debuted SF’s “rainbow lasers” that projected over four miles from the Ferry Building down Market Street. Not surprisingly: It garnered widespread fandom and appreciation for locals and tourists alike.

Fast forward to this past week, Illuminated announced that the display, which is aptly named “WELCOME,” symbolizing both SF’s status as a bastion of queerness and the need for increased solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community, will return this year for Pride.

 “ICYMI: #WelcomeSF will be back June 23-25,” reads a tweet from the nonprofit published on June 2nd, before cheekily nodding at the fact that the artwork is in collaboration with Karl The Fog. “We’ll be blasting the world’s largest pride flag 4.1 miles down Market Street b/c we are San Francisco.”

Though more details are expected to go live in the coming weeks, we imagine the piece will be quasi-identical to the 2022 iteration, spanning 49 feet wide and using at least six laser beams that send light over four miles through downtown and onto Twin Peaks. Last year, the beams were raised and positioned at a 3-degree angle to reach above the Twin Peaks in the distance; because the Big One hasn’t happened (yet) and the world is, indeed, still round, we’d imagine the angling of these beams won’t change, either.

There’s going to be a “free” community event when the lasers are unveiled on June 23rd, so put that on the calendar while we wait for more info on this year’s “WELCOME” display.

Feature image: Courtesy of Illuminate

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