A sidewalk stensil outside Pride's offices on Market Street.
After weeks spent weathering protests and less than flattering press coverage, SF Pride announced in the final hours of last week that it will not be reversing its prior reversal on whether to recognize alleged Wikileaker, Pvt. Bradley Manning as Grand Marshal of this month's Pride parade.
In a pithy press release issued at around 6:30p.m. on Friday, Pride wrote:
Over the past several weeks, SF Pride has sought to respectfully listen to and consider the various opinions and perspectives on the matter of Pfc. Bradley Manning and related interests in extending representative support for Pfc. Manning. The SF Pride Board of Directors recognizes the divergent opinions regarding the matter of Pfc. Manning, but none of the three main options we received from the community forum on May 31 garnered a consensus majority…Therefore, SF Pride will continue to produce this year’s Pride Celebration to ensure a safe and joyful time for all attendees as safety and security is our number #1 [sic] priority."
For more background, read our long-take on the controversy published in this month's issue.
While no one from SF Pride was available this morning to field follow up questions (we'll update this article if and when we hear anything), here's a round-up of some of the other relevant voices in this debate weighing in on this latest chapter in the Grand Marshal-gate scandal.
Supervisor David Campos
"I think Pride has really mishandled this whole situation. To begin with, once you make a decision to name someone Grand Marshal, I think it's really hard to explain or justify taking that back. And the explanation for why and how that occurred has been a moving target. At some point, I think Pride just decided that they weren't going to talk to the community about it anymore, which is why I urged them to hold a community meeting. One thing that became clear to me at that meeting is that the people who support Bradley Manning were open to different options. There were gestures Pride could have made—if not making him Grand Marshal, then recognizing him in some way. Whether you agree with Manning or not, there was courage in what he did and he does mean something to many people in this community. But instead, Pride has decided to stand with their decision. That's problematic not only for Manning's supporters, but for those who care about Pride as an organization. I think it would be appropriate to recognize Bradley Manning, but wherever you stand, you cannot feel good about how Pride has handled this."
Lauren Lamoly, Director of Communications at the American Military Partner Association
"I commend SF Pride's decision—it was the right one. Regardless of whether someone believes Manning did the right thing or not, he shouldn't be representing the LGBT community. As a member of the military partner community, I believe (as does AMPA), that he put thousands of lives in danger and did not have nearly enough information or rank to decide to release this information. More to the point, what he did either has nothing to do with his sexuality, or he leaked information to 'get back' at the military for not him to serve openly. If the second is true, as some argue, than Manning put many people in danger simply for spite—not to 'whistle blow.' Either way, he does not seem to accurately represent such a reputable community."
Joey Cain, former board president at SF Pride
"Honestly, this came as a little bit of a surprise. If I had to guess, I would say that there are board members who wanted to change things, but that they were overruled. The press release talks about "consensus majority." I don't even know what that means! And then they put it out at around 6:30 on a Friday, so that nobody can respond. This just shows the absolute contempt that the Pride leadership has for the community. There is a phenomenal level of arrogance on part of those at the top—I mean, Lisa Williams and Earl Plante. And it's just going to help us get more people to take part in the Manning contingent during the parade. The Dyke March has come out in support of Manning. So has the Trans March. Pride has just handled this so badly from the start. I don't know if there's any kind of plan over there, but if this is their plan, they need a new planner."
Michael Thurman, organizer with Courage to Resist
"I didn't think that they were going to re-instate Manning, but I did expect some kind of honor for him. A compromise of some kind. But it just shows how inept the board has become. A lot of people in the community have been frustrated with the organization for a very long time, so now it's all coming to the fore. And in a way, I don't think it's really relevant what the board announces. A lot of groups within the LGBTQ community have decided to honor Manning. The Trans March. The Dyke March. And you're going to see a lot of show of support for the Manning contingent in the parade. So it's not as relevant. The board doesn't represent the community. The community represents the community. We're going to go forward with Bradley Manning as 'the people's Grand Marshal.'"