by Tommi Avicolli Mecca
Queer apple pie and motherhood are safe once more: Bradley Manning is no longer a grand marshall of the San Francisco Pride Parade that gets underway on the last Sunday of June.
Manning, the person accused of giving classified military documents to WikiLeaks, a site that publishes anonymous news leaks from various sources, was chosen as a grand marshall of Pride and then rejected. A statement from Lisa L. Williams, SF Pride board president, explains the reason why Manning would not be receiving one of the highest honors that the parade gives each year.
It seems that the decision to honor Manning was a “mistake” by a “staff person” at Pride who has since been “disciplined.” Okay. That would have been sufficient to explain the situation, I guess. But then Williams goes on to expose the new politics at Pride:
“Bradley Manning is facing the military justice system of this country. We all await the decision of that system. However, until that time, even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms (sic) way the lives of our men and women in uniform -- and countless others, military and civilian alike -- will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride. It is, and would be, an insult to every one, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country.”
Manning didn’t put the lives of military personnel in harm’s way, those who chose to send them overseas did, including former President George W. Bush and current members of Congress. Local politicos, Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi, have voted time and again to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their actions put military personnel, gay and straight, in "harm's way" every single day of the week. Why doesn't Pride ban them from ever participating in the parade?
It's obvious that Pride has no sense of history. The queer community has a tradition of supporting those who used radical means to effect social change. In the early 70s, queer organizations backed Black Panther members charged with all sorts of things by the U.S. government. In the late 70s, Susan Saxe, a lesbian antiwar activist accused of taking part in a bank holdup in Boston in which a police officer was killed, was given tremendous support by the LGBT community, especially the lesbian community.
Williams states in her letter that the current system for choosing grand marshals is defective and will be revamped. Does that mean ultimately setting up a selection process that will eliminate controversial or radical queers from being grand marshals?
Or anyone not approved of by the military, church and government? If someone is outspoken against the churches, for instance, will that eliminate him or her because it might offend the queer and non-queer “people of faith” who participate in Pride? How about someone who is hated by gay landlords and realtors because of his or her tenant activism? Or an Occupy activist who has angered some of the sponsors of Pride?
The same sponsors of Pride who are accused of heinous crimes. As London's Guardian notes, Bank of America is currently "being sued for $1 billion by the U.S. government for allegedly engaging in a systematic scheme of mortgage fraud." And Wells Fargo, another corporate sponsor of Pride, is also being sued for "reckless mortgage loans." How many LGBT folks and others were put in danger of losing -- or actually lost -- their homes because of the actions of these banks? People such as Larry Faulkes, a disabled African American gay man who was pushed out of a home that he lived in for decades. Shouldn't Pride disassociate itself from these sponsors because it's giving more than "the hint of support" for the actions of these institutions? You know it won't.
Sometimes it’s hard to have pride in Pride.