Bradley Manning is off limits at SF Gay Pride parade, but corporate sleaze is embracedhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/27/bradley-manning-sf-gay-pride
PFC Bradley Manning is escorted by military police as he departs the courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland in this April 25, 2012 file photo.
Bradley Manning is off limits at SF Gay Pride parade, but corporate sleaze is embraced
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 27 April 2013 10.36 EDT
News reports yesterday indicated that Bradley Manning, widely known to be gay, had been selected to be one of the Grand Marshals of the annual San Francisco gay pride parade, named by the LGBT Pride Celebration Committee. When the predictable backlash instantly ensued, the president of the Board of SF Pride, Lisa L Williams, quickly capitulated, issuing a cowardly, imperious statement that has to be read to be believed.
Williams proclaimed that "Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year's San Francisco Pride celebration" and termed his selection "a mistake". She blamed it all on a "staff person" who prematurely made the announcement based on a preliminary vote, and she assures us all that the culprit "has been disciplined": disciplined. She then accuses Manning of "actions which placed in harms way [sic] the lives of our men and women in uniform": a substance-free falsehood originally spread by top US military officials which has since been decisively and extensively debunked, even by some government officials (indeed, it's the US government itself, not Manning, that is guilty of "actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform" . And then, in my favorite part of her statement, Williams decreed to all organization members that "even the hint of support" for Manning's action - even the hint - "will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride". Will not be tolerated.
I originally had no intention of writing about this episode, but the more I discovered about it, the more revealing it became. So let's just consider a few of the points raised by all of this.
First, while even a hint of support for Manning will not be tolerated, there is a long roster of large corporations serving as the event's sponsors who are welcomed with open arms. The list is here. It includes AT&T and Verizon, the telecom giants that enabled the illegal warrantless eavesdropping on US citizens by the Bush administration and its NSA, only to get retroactively immunized from Congress and thus shielded from all criminal and civil liability (including a lawsuit brought in San Francisco against those corporations by their customers who were illegally spied on). Last month, AT&T was fined by OSHA for failing to protect one of its employees who was attacked, was found by the FCC last year to have overcharged customers by secretly switching them to plans they didn't want, and is now being sued by the US government for "allegedly bill[ing] the government improperly for services designed for the deaf and hard-of-hearing who place calls by typing messages over the web."
unhappycamper comment: Lots o links at the original article. The Corporate Sponsors for the parade are:
Same old SF politics, same crap different century.
2. This Lisa Williams person is beyond belief. Who is she and where did they find her? SHE's the "President of the Bd."? She sounds..... ummmmm.... let's just say "ill-equipped."
3. This issue is interesting and important on so many levels. Some of us date back to the days when the "parades" were actually political *marches* designed to challenge universally-imposed invisibilty and generalized ( I mean in the sense of "permeating every facet of life" heterosexism.
They've gradually become less political, less edgy, more commercial and frankly... to me anyway... less purposeful and less interesting. They've become essentially corporate exercises and , now --- the dim-witted ramblings of Ms. Williams have alerted us to this fact --- politically conservative.
There are reasons for this evolution; some of them are positive. Increasing acceptance of non-standard expressions of sexuality and gender. ( More sexuality than gender, but still, we've made a lot of social progress.)
The lgbt movement has to figure out where it's going next. With marriage equality now pretty much a matter of just waiting for the rest of the dominos to fall, and legal obstacles to military service also on the way out, we have to identify a rationale to continue as a movement.
Should we just assimilate completely... and have a once -a-year celebration of ... well... not much of anything ? Sort of like St. Patrick's Day for lgbts?
Or does being lgbt mean more than just showing up as another essentially meaningless sliver on the American demographic pie chart?
The Manning issue is kind of a crossroads here. I myself don't know the answer. But it will be interesting, and probably instructive, to see how this plays out.