Friday, February 17, 2012

Castro Group Breaks Own Rules;
Flies 'Brown Rainbow' Flag at Milk Plaza

Absurdity reached a new height today in San Francisco's Castro district on the part of the dizzy control queens at the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro, and the sole dominance over the public flagpole at Harvey Milk Plaza. On Monday, after not a single public meeting was held, MUMC quietly unveiled their rules governing their control and requests from community members wishing equal access to public property. Here's the key component:

The Flag’s full-staff display has otherwise been temporarily modified on very rare occasions, for example, to mark the usually-tragic death of a notable member of the local LGBT community.

These MUMC queens forget that in 2011 the flag was lowered for murdered gay Ugandan David Kato and the passing of gay pioneer Frank Kameny who lived in Washington, DC. Neither was a member, notable or not, of the local community. 

MUMC's guidelines, after cutting through the thicket of verbiage bowing and scraping before flag creator Gilbert Baker and what he wants for the flagpole even though he lives in New York City, also insists on the following criteria:

Individuals and community groups which propose that MUMC modify the Rainbow Flag’s full-staff display for a commemorative purpose are respectfully reminded of that fundamental principle [of Baker's that the flag always flies full staff]. However, if they feel that there is a compelling reason to modify the Harvey Milk Plaza Rainbow Flag display, and the proposal is demonstrated to have broad, diverse community support, they are invited to submit a proposal to MUMC’s Board of Directors.

If the sole purpose for which they will grandly consider the remote possibility is to commemorate an event or person of local significance, then why the heck is the bear community flag flying today and not the rainbow flag?

In keeping with their opaqueness and sad incompetence with standard, regular communication to the wider Castro network of stakeholders, an answer to that question is missing at MUMC's site.

This afternoon, I walked into as many Castro businesses and nonprofits as possible and gave a flyer about the flagpole controversy, and from two young merchants, one woman and one man, I was asked this question: "Why is there a brown rainbow flag flying today?" I told them to ask MUMC's president Steve Adams for the answer.

I sure would like to know what broad, diverse community support was demonstrated for the bears who raised their flag today, because lots of folks, merchants and shoppers alike asked me if there was some big bear event this weekend. Whomever is behind the bear flag flapping in the wind at Castro and Market Street might want to explain what they are commemorating. MUMC should say why they've broken their own rules this week.

Imagine if there were genuine community control of this piece of public real estate, equal access to if for each member of the local community and not just friends of Steve Adams, and a post at the base of the flagpole informing locals why the flag's display has been modified. Ok, I'm medicated and was just fantasizing about democracy breaking out in the Banana Republic of the Castro.

But with MUMC in charge of things, fairness and transparency and consistency are not integral to their stewardship of the flag at Harvey Milk Plaza.

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