LGBTQ leaders uphold selection of Bradley Manning as SF Pride grand marshal
By LGBT Community Leaders. May 2, 2013
Recently, it was announced that PFC Bradley Manning would be a grand marshal of the 2013 San Francisco Pride Celebration. We felt this decision was a bold and uplifting choice, bestowing a great May honor on a young whistleblower being persecuted for following his conscience.
Much to our disappointment, two days later SF Pride board president Lisa Williams issued a separate announcement that the SF Pride board would not be honoring PFC Manning as a grand marshal after all. It appears the SF pride board’s reversal was affected by criticism from a recently formed gay military rights group.
We want the world to know that the SF Pride board’s decision is not reflective of the LGBTQ community as a whole, and that many of us proudly celebrate PFC Manning as a member of our community. Unfortunately, the statements by Williams, and the group which originally advocated against PFC Manning as grand marshal, continue to perpetuate certain factual inaccuracies with regards to the military prosecution against him.
The first inaccuracy would be that PFC Manning did not advocate for gay rights. In fact, while serving in the military, PFC Manning experienced harassment and physical assault because of his perceived sexuality. He responded by marching against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the DC pride parade, where he spoke to reporters about his position, in addition to attending a fundraiser with Gavin Newsom and the Stonewall Democrats so he could discuss the issue of homophobia in the military. He told a friend in February of 2009 that his experience living under DADT and experiencing the oppression that entailed helped increase his interest in politics more generally.
LGBTQ activists fought hard for years to win the right to live free from the fear that we could be targeted with violence deemed acceptable to society at large, simply for being who we are. We members of the LGBTQ community would like to stand in solidarity with others around the world who still must live in fear of violence and oppression, simply for being born into a particular group.
Contrary to SF Pride Board president Lisa Williams’s claim, no evidence has been presented that PFC Manning’s actions endangered fellow soldiers or civilians. In fact, the military prosecution has successfully argued in court that it isn’t required to provide such evidence, and former State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley continues to insist that the “Aiding the enemy” charge is unwarranted.
In a February 28, 2013, court statement, PFC Manning detailed the due diligence he performed prior to releasing materials to ensure this lack of harm, in addition to explaining,
“I believed the detailed analysis of the [Iraq and Afghanistan war log] data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the affected environment every day.”
The truth is that President Bush and VP Cheney’s aggressive wars in the Middle East endangered far more LGBTQ service members and civilians than any Army whistle-blower. Unlike PFC Manning, however, they have never served prison time, and likely never will.
Millions of people around the world support Bradley for the personal risk he took in sharing realities of complicated U.S. foreign conflicts with the American people. He is the only gay U.S. serviceperson to be nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize. In joining the Army, soldiers take an oath to protect the U.S. Constitution, and we believe that by his actions PFC Manning strengthened our democracy, and fulfilled that oath to a greater degree than most enlisted.
We are proud to embrace PFC Bradley Manning as one of our icons, and intend to march for him in pride contingents across the country this year, as we have in years past. We think Bradley Manning sets a high standard for what a U.S. serviceperson, gay or straight, can be.
Organizations listed for identification purposes only
Lt. Dan Choi – 2009 SF Pride Celebrity Grand Marshal, anti-DADT activist
Joey Cain – 2008 SF Pride Community Grand Marshal, past Board Member and President of SF Pride
Gary Virginia – 2012 SF Pride Community Grand Marshal
Kate Raphael – 2004 SF Pride Community Grand Marshal; LAGAI – Queer Insurrection
Dr. Carol Queen – 2008 SF Pride Honorary Grand Marshal, 2001 SF Pride Community Grand Marshal, writer, speaker, educator and sex-positive activist
Barry Saiff – 2002 SF Pride Honorary Grand Marshall, Former President of BiNet USA
John O’brien - 1970 Inaugatory Pride Committee member; Stonewall Rebellion Co-Organizer
John Caldera – Commander, American Legion Bob Basker Post 315ED & SF Veterans For Peace
Alice Walker – Pulitzer Prize winning author, poet, womanist, and activist
Leslie Feinberg - Transgender author and activist
Glenn Greenwald - Award-winning journalist
Minnie-Bruce Pratt - Award-winning lesbian writer, anti-racist & anti-imperialist activist
David McReynolds - War Resisters League; first openly gay U.S. presidential candidate
Stephen Eagle Funk - Artistic Director, Veteran Artists
Marshall Brown - United States Air Force veteran
Becca von Behren - Staff Attorney, Swords to Plowshares Veterans Service Organization
Peter Tatchell - Founder, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Troy Abraham - President Of Human Equality Organizations
Luke Adams - Community mental health counselor, minister, and organizer
Orus Barker -Bradley Manning supporter
Dr. Gray Brechin - author Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin
Susie Bright - Public speaker, educator, and writer
Adele Carpenter – Civilian-Soldier Alliance, SF Chapter
Merrill Cole - Associate Professor of English, Western Illinois University
Gabriel Conaway – Equality activist; Steering Committee of SAME
Salvatore Conti -Kansas Bradley Manning Support
Su Docekal – Queer Action Coordinator; Freedom Socialist Party; Co-founder, Seattle’s Freedom Day Committee
Dossie Easton – Therapist and author
Rena-paulette Guay - Executive Director, Oklahoma Center for Conscience and Peace Research; Co-founder, Tampa Bay Lesbian & Gay Pride March
Joan P. Gibbs, Esq. – National Conference of Black Lawyers
Evan Greer – Radical queer riotfolk musician
Liz Henry – Poet and activist
Liz Highleyman – journalist and member of ACT UP, San Francisco
Lori Hurlebaus – Civilian Soldier Alliance, SF Chapter; Co-founder, Courage to Resist
Pat Humphries – Musician, Emma’s Revolution
Sergei Kostin - Art Director, CODEPINK Women for Peace
Sandy Opatow – Musician, Emma’s Revolution
Malachy Kilbride – Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Drew Langdon - Lavender Green Caucus; Candidate for Rochester, NY City Council
Kendall Lovett – Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne
Jill McLaughlin – World Can’t Wait Steering Committee
Tommi Avicolli Mecca – queer activist, writer and performer, editor of Smash the Church, Smash the State: the early years of gay liberation.
Pamela Means – Award-winning OUT musician
Lori Nairne – Queer Strike, SF Bay Area
Robert Ostertag – Musician and artist
Anne Phoenix – Queer Strike, UK
Starlene Rankin - Lavender Green Caucus co-chair (Green Party)
Rainey Reitman – Steering Committee, Bradley Manning Support Network
Michelle Robidoux – Co-founder, War Resisters Support Campaign
Mannie De Saxe - Lesbian and Gay Solidarity
Martha Shelley – Co-founder, Gay Liberation Front; Radicalesbians, NYC
Oliver Shykles – Queer Friends of Bradley Manning
Starchild – Libertarian National Committee member, sex worker, pro-freedom activist, former candidate for District 8 Supervisor
Jan Steckel - Bisexual Author and Activist
Jon Sugar – Founder, Gay Artist and Writers Kollective; former KPFA radio personality
Andy Thayer – Co-founder, Gay Liberation Network
Lori Selke – Author and activist
Curt Wechsler – editor, Fire John Yoo
Sherry Wolf – author, Sexuality and Socialism
Kit Yan – Queer & trans Asian-American poet
Lee Zaslofsky – Co-founder, War Resisters Support Campaign
Russell Zellers - Former Assistant Director, HIV Health Services AIDS Office, SFDPH