Thursday, May 02, 2013

Bradley Manning, Grand Marshal, not Court Martial

Monday at 5PM on Market Street near Octavia, there was a small demonstration in front of the temporary offices for SF Pride, who are in charge of the annual June tourist gay parade extravaganza.

In an episode that should go down in the historic annals of PR Don'ts, the organization last week announced that the imprisoned soldier Bradley Manning would be a parade Grand Marshal this year, and then announced that it had all been a mistake. President Lisa Williams released a polarizing statement that included, "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." This is just another example that we are living in a golden age of unintentional irony.

The entire affair is Joey Cain's fault, above right with friend Paul Bloom who insisted on a photo to prove that they were not the same person, as many people believe. Cain was the Grand Marshal Emeritus who nominated Bradley Manning in the first place, and he's also been on the SF Pride Board for a decade so he's fully aware of how dysfunctional the organization can be. For a detailed, funny account of what went down behind the scenes at SF Pride, click here for a Tim Redmond post. It ends with Cain's rueful remark, "“The worst part is that I’m part of the anarchist community, and I’ve always been out there arguing in support of Pride,” Cain said. “Then this is like, holy fucking shit, they just proved everything I’ve been trying to disprove all these years.”

Chris Bowman, above left, and a few Log Cabin Republican cohorts also showed up praising the decision to treat Bradley Manning as a traitor rather than an heroic whistleblower. Bowman gets points for using "egregious" in a sign, but demerits for spelling it "egreggious."

The most famous whistleblower in recent American history, Daniel Ellsberg above, also showed up at the protest. If I heard him correctly, Ellsberg told us that he'd been asked to step into Bradley Manning's place as Grand Marshal by SF Pride and he told them there was no way. Instead he will be marching in his first gay parade next month, except as part of a Bradley Manning support contingent denouncing the SF Pride organization.

"Bradley was much more courageous than me. I could have leaked the Pentagon Papers information much earlier and possibly saved lives, but I did not and it's weighed on my conscience ever since. Bradley's actions were heroic, and maybe they will save some lives."

The San Francisco Gay Pride weekend long ago devolved into a bland, corporate sponsored event with overpriced drinks for suburban young people, many of them heterosexual, who want to get drunk in public in San Francisco. Maybe it will be more interesting this year.

1 comment:

Hattie said...

This is the best thing I have read about this situation. Your on-the-ground reportage is invaluable.
SF has always had a very conservative gay community.