For about a day, Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning was going to be one of the Grand Marshals
in this year's San Francisco Pride Parade. Since Manning continues to languish in a military brig, his* frequent champion
, the Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, agreed to attend in his stead. Manning was selected by Pride's "electoral college," a jury of former Grand Marshals that elects some of the Grand Marshals for each year's parade. But almost as soon as his selection was announced, it was revoked by the Pride board. Here is the statement from board President Lisa Williams
The SF Pride board is meeting right now, and Manning's advocates will be gathering outside and possibly inside the meeting. @lizatblackrose
is livetweeting the meeting.
In her statement, Williams characterized Manning's selection as undemocratic, and an accident:
A staff person at SF Pride, acting under his own initiative, prematurely contacted Bradley Manning based on internal conversations within the SF Pride organization. That was an error and that person has been disciplined. He does not now, nor did he at that time, speak for SF Pride.
But according to interviews with one former Grand Marshal
, that is not quite accurate:
the Board had been willing to honor him. It was not until LGBT military groups from outside of San Francisco began to bombard San Francisco Pride’s office with phone calls and emails that the Board decided Pride would not honor Manning.
“I nominated Bradley Manning to be a Grand Marshal,” Joey Cain told Firedoglake. Three others in addition to Manning were nominated. An email went out to former Grand Marshals and “we voted.”
The board was not just fixing a procedural screwup, then: they were trying to walk back a decision that was bringing them under political fire.
The backlash at Manning's election appears to have been driven in part by gay military activist groups, with some arguing that Manning "does not represent the gay military community
." Salon hosted an exchange between gay military activists Sean Sala (anti-Manning) and Dan Choi (pro-Manning)
. In the debate, Sala returns several times to the argument that what Manning did (regardless of its merits) has nothing to do with being gay or gay rights.
Now that gay rights orgs are increasingly part of the mainstream, they are subject to the same kinds of pressures and incentives that all mainstream groups face. Do all those big corporate sponsorships mean radicalism is no longer welcome: Stephen W. Thrasher on the military-industrial complex and "the professional homosexuals
? Is it ironic for the chair of a group named after Bayard Rustin to shun an activist because he is regarded as a "traitor" (NSFW-ish)
*I have used "he," "his," etc., to refer to Manning in this post. Actually there is some speculation that Manning regards himself as a woman. In the absence of definitive word I stuck with the male conventions for simplicity.