SF Pride nixes discussion on Manning recision

by Tommi Avicolli Mecca

Newspeak, SF Pride board-style: first, Army whistleblower Bradley Manning (not Congress, the Pentagon or the president) is putting U.S. military personnel, straight and queer, “in harm’s way” by releasing thousands of pages of classified documents to WikiLeaks that show, among other thing, U.S. bombing of civilians in Iraq, now his supporters are putting everyone who will come to the pride parade on June 30 in danger by protesting the board’s removal of Manning as a grand marshal for the annual festivities.

Therefore, be it resolved that the board is postponing, until after the parade, a forum on the Manning issue it promised to schedule last Tuesday (May 7) when 125 of us waited outside of its offices to take part in what was supposed to be a public meeting. That meeting was canceled after some folks managed to get into an elevator and go on up to the office where the board was assembled when it became quite apparent that we weren’t going to be let in. When things got a little heated, Pride called the cops. No arrests were made because there wasn’t a “riot,” as some Pride officials had characterized it to the police.

The latest statement from Pride, Inc. says that the board has now decided the Manning Pride marshal matter is closed shut, no discussion allowed.

“SF Pride's decision concerning the election process of Bradley Manning as Grand Marshall being consistent with SF Pride's long standing Grand Marshall election policy is firm. Thus, the discussion of that matter is closed for this year.”

“Long standing Grand Marshal policy?” A reference to a requirement that grand marshals be local. Why wasn’t that “policy” raised months ago when Manning was first nominated by Joey Cain, a former board president? Convenient that it’s “discovered” when the board needed an excuse for nixing Manning as grand marshal. 

The board then goes on to explain what it has deemed best for the community: 

“A meeting in a larger venue after the 2013 Celebration and Parade will allow people from all sides of that issue and others to fully air and hear one another's viewpoints, without jeopardizing the production of this year's event and the safety and security of the attendees.”

A meeting AFTER Pride when, they hope, fewer people will care? How are Manning supporters “jeopardizing” the “safety and security” of the pride parade and celebration? By questioning a decision made by a handful of people behind closed doors to rescind the selection of Manning by the electoral college of former grand marshals who usually pick the individual for this honor? By questioning why a public meeting was called, then canceled? By wanting accountability from a community organization? 

It gets worse: the statement ends with a request from the board, “We ask everyone in the community to come together in Pride this June, recognizing that we can embrace difference without violence and hate.”

What?! Are board members saying that Manning supporters are promoting “violence and hate?” What’s next? Accusing us of being terrorists? Instead of cops, will we be greeted with Homeland Security next time we come near their offices? 

Is this the board’s idea of “embracing difference” -- shutting out discussion until after the parade is over?

It’s really maddening that an institution originally created by old leftist activists is now run by folks who answer to the likes of AT&T, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, three of the many corporate sponsors and donors to Pride. 

As far as I'm concerned, Manning is grand marshal and there's nothing Pride officials can say to change that.

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