LGBTQ leaders uphold selection of Bradley Manning as SF Pride grand marshal

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  • Encourage SF PRIDE! to reinstate Bradley Manning as a Grand Marshal – SF Pride Offices: 415.864.0831; SF Pride President Lisa Williams: 415.424.9660;; Fax: 415.864.5889
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  • First published by the San Francisco Bay Guardian

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.  

Bradley Manning, while active duty, at a Washington DC Pride march, summer 2009

Bradley Manning, while on active duty, at a Washington DC Pride march, summer 2009

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.”

Bradley Manning attending a fundraiser with Gavin Newsom and the Stonewall Democrats, summer 2009.

Bradley Manning attending a fundraiser with Gavin Newsom and the Stonewall Democrats, summer 2009.

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
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
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
Dr. Gray Brechin – author Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin
Susie Bright – Public speaker, educator, and writer
Troy Abraham - President Of Human Equality Organizations
Luke Adams - Community mental health counselor, minister, and organizer
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
Dossie Easton – Therapist and author
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
Pamela Means – Award-winning OUT musician 
Lori Nairne – Queer Strike, SF Bay Area
Anne Phoenix – Queer Strike, UK
Rainey Reitman – Steering Committee, Bradley Manning Support Network
Mannie De Saxe - Lesbian and Gay Solidarity
Martha Shelley – Co-founder, Gay Liberation Front; Radicalesbians, NYC
Oliver Shykles – Queer Friends of Bradley Manning
Peter Tatchell – Founder, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Andy Thayer – Co-founder, Gay Liberation Network
Lori Selke – Author and activist
Kit Yan – Queer & trans Asian-American poet
Orus Barker -Bradley Manning supporter
Russell Zellers - Former Assistant Director, HIV Health Services AIDS Office, SFDPH


Supporters of Bradley Manning marching in SF Pride 2011. Join us again this year on Sunday, June 30, 2013.


11 thoughts on “LGBTQ leaders uphold selection of Bradley Manning as SF Pride grand marshal

  1. Bradley Manning is an exemplary human being. I am sure he is flawed in many ways as the rest of us. However he saw wrong being done by the American politicians and military and he obeyed a higher authority – his conscience.

    I am immensely inspired by Bradley, for his courage and his actions. I wish him well and I sincerely hope the evil and persecution done against him will relent soon and he will be freed.

    I am disappointed by the journalists who are not on this issue, like the way for instance during watergate. And I am also deeply saddened by SF Pride board president Lisa Williams to not honor Bradley as a grand marshal. Lisa would do well to review the facts and retract her decision, lest she loses all credibility with the entire LGBTQ group.

  2. As concerned Canadian queer activists, Bradley Manning is a gay hero representing the anti-imperial and anti-colonial struggles of oppressed people under US military occupation. Without Bradley, would there have been an Arab Spring, or any media scrutiny into the duplicitous politics that rendered innocent people to a Guantanamo prison or would international outrage against the callous killing of a Reuter’s reporter in Iraq ever made it to the fron page without Bradley’s courageous whistle-blowing. We knew the US invasion of Iraq was illegal and we wholeheartedly uphold Manning’s grand marshal honour @ the SF Pride Parade. Resisting illegal wars and US imperialism is every LGBT’s responsibility…injustice to Bradley is an injustice to all. Whistleblower rights to ALL!!!
    Rhonda & Davis Mirza-Costas
    TOronto, CANADA

  3. I, too, strongly support Bradley Manning as an LGBTQ hero. If I march at Pride this year, I fully intend to wear or carry a statement to that effect. OMO, his courageous actions have brought honor to our community.


  4. I’m a gay Army Vet and I support my gay brother Bradley 100% Every soldier has a moral duty to report crimes and Bradley was the only soldier with a backbone to do it,while other soldiers turned their backs to the crimes.He’s more of a man than all the other soldiers. Free Bradley Manning

  5. This is good – support for Manning! Better? – disassociate totally from SFPride. Create alternative event(s) (occupy LGBTQ representation for 99%). SFPride is being used by 1% as another Trojan Horse. Shun the organization and actually fight for the rights they say they support.

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