Tuesday, May 07, 2013

125 Try to Attend SF Pride Meeting Over Manning Debacle

[Use of all photos is allowed, as long as you credit Petrelis Files.]

When I arrived at 6:30 pm at the SF Pride office entrance on Pearl Street, there were nearly 100 activists milling about. The Bradley Manning Support Network volunteers distributed pastel pink circular stickers with the gay whistle-blowers face on them, large cloths banners were displayed on collapsible poles and the vibe was light and full of solidarity. Every so often, as the crowd grew to a solid 125 persons occupying the sidewalk and street, we chanted: "They say court martial! We say grand marshal!"

Much deep gratitude to everyone who turned out tonight.

No effort was made by the Pride folks to communicate with the throng on their doorstep. Nothing about how they were going to handle letting activists in and accommodate all who wanted entry. Not one representative was on the street to dialogue with us.

At about 7:04 pm Pride treasurer David Currie asked me to move aside, I was right in front of the door, so he could use his key to open the door and get into the building. I complied with his request then positioned myself half-way into the lobby, as Currie's grasp on the inside door handle slipped. Pleading to use the bathroom, he said yes to my request to be let in, and two inches behind me was Jerry the Faerie, a longtime radical queer. It was Jerry who made way for others to follow into the lobby.

After walking down a long and narrow path past Pride's one hired security guard and Pride's staff, I was let in to the board meeting and the door shut behind me. It was 7:11 pm. I immediately launched into complaints about the corporatization of Pride and making marriage and military the only political issues for a decade, while pushing out social justice activists who want Pride to also be about housing, healthcare and job protection.

A member interrupted me and asked that the meeting officially start, which it did with only me in the room. Look at the empty chairs. I shut up and listened to the board for seven-minutes conducted business, while out in hallway activists and a reporter demanded to be let in, and soon the guard allowed two handfuls of others in.

Upset that the meeting had already started, movement veterans Starchild, on the left, and Gary Virgninia, himself a former grand marshal, respectfully questioned how the meeting started without more members of the public and the press to observe and participate in it.

Just over twenty people were eventually allowed to sit down or stand inside the meeting room. Jerry the Faerie, right, reads the agenda for the evening.

This board member, who didn't ID herself, waved the statement Pride released earlier today regarding a number of issues including the Manning mess they created, a rosy history of Pride, the selection process of grand marshals and the complaint filed today with the Human Rights Commission alleging Pride violated local  laws.

No single board member seem to be in charge of facilitating the meeting. One moment it was Lisa Williams, board president, or this woman, or one of the gentleman sitting near the door. The time was 7:23 pm.

Without introducing himself, the relatively newly hired New York City transplant Earl Plante came into the room and issued a warning to Starchild, who spent five minutes questioning how the meeting was being conducted and objecting to each member of the public getting only 1-minute to make a comment. The board had their general counsel piped in on speaker phone, and she said the board was within their rights to limit comments to that short amount of time.

Upon hearing "Free Bradley Manning" chants coming up from Market Street, Starchild opened a window and shouted to the crowd directly below and some activists across the street on a transit platform. "They're limiting free speech! They won't let the press in!"

There were two San Francisco police cruisers  parked out Market Street near Guerrero, along with a squad car a short distance away.

Plante had the security guard come in, then pointed to Starchild as the trouble-maker to be ejected and at that point Starchild stopped shouting out the window and sat in his seat.

Activists were reminded by a board member that each speaker would get a single-minute to make a statement and then public comment began, at 7:39 pm.

I was the first to speak and here's a recap of what I said: "After a decade of corporatizing Pride and forcing social justice issues off the agenda, making room just for marriage and military issues, your queer chickens have come home to roost. It's not just Pride that's the problem but the Human Rights Campaign and all of Gay Inc that must change. We need to reclaim Pride. Act up! Fight back!"

Following after me was Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg. He asked the board to reinstate Manning as a Grand Marshal because it's the right thing to do, to honor their own electoral process and that Manning should be lauded as the hero that he is. On his left are board members, and behind him are members of the public.

On my way out, I snapped a photo of Plante being interviewed by reporter Heather Holmes and a camerawoman from KTVU News in the Pride office. The KTVU crew was not at any time allowed into the board meeting.

As I was escorted out of the building by a Pride person who wouldn't give me his name and the security guard, I said this was no way to run a Pride committee. The fact that Pride leaders couldn't be bothered to lift a finger and rent a room half-a-block away at the gay community center to accommodate the crowd, is one more example of how inept these leaders are.

We proud queers deserve, and will eventually get, better Pride leaders.


John said...

Thanks for this. I was looking for news of this meeting. Your reporting of it seemed very fair. I do hope SF does make Manning a GM. He's shown real courage during his torture and imprisonment. He'll be lucky to get out alive.

Glenn Stehle said...

I too want to thank you for your reporting.

I was wondering whether or not Lisa Williams would resurface for the board meeting. Most reporters covering the story, and she is at least 50% of the story, are making the same observation: that she has gone incommunicado. The local ABC affiliate, KGO-TV San Francisco, elevated this to a complaint. The video of their report can be seen here:


Nevertheless, even though Williams showed up for the meeting, it appears she succeeded in keeping herself insulated from not just the press, but her public as well.

In the long run, however, she can't avoid this controversy, because it is not going to go away. There may be a minority of LGBTs that tow the neoconservative line, but I'll bet it's not a large minority.

I would be surprised if LGBTs allow themselves to be dominated by a handful of self-anointed court queers, exception queers and parvenu queers. They've fought entirely too long and too hard to get where they are to throw it all away to a small group of anti-democratic authoritarians.

Glenn Stehle said...

Here's a link to the KTVU News report:



Viewing the video segment is highly recommended.

This from the written report:

"Part the reason we wanted to have this meeting tonight is to really listen to the community, share their concerns and try to move forward in a proactive way," said [SF Pride spokesperson] Plante.

One is forced to ask the question: "What friggin planet does this guy live on?"

Or is the problem my lying eyes?

I'm sure suspicions abound as to the quick and impromtu way the meeting was called, and the insufficient notice that was given. Was the board hoping no one would show up? Well if that was the plan, it certainly didn't work.

My hat goes off to San Francisco activists. A warm and well-deserved round of applause is in order.

Andy Humm said...

Great action. Thank you. How are pride committee members elected and what is the plan to replace them with social justice activists?

Glenn Stehle said...

Neoconservatives have gone out of their way to appeal to anti-gay stereotypes in their demonization of Bradley Manning. According to neocon lore, he is the typical flighty, impulsive, vindictive, clever but certainly never intelligent or thoughtful, effete, hairbrained homosexual. But the most tragic part of this entire story is how a large number of LGBTs have not just uncritically bought into this stigmatization of Manning, but have joined the chorus.

Hannah Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism explains that the same tactics were used against the Jews beginning in the latter third of the 19th century when politicians in Austria, France and Germany “discovered that anti-Semitic slogans were effective in mobilizing large strata of the population.” As Arendt goes on to explain:

Instead of being defined by nationality or religion, Jews were being transformed into a social group whose members shared certain psychological attributes and reactions, the sum total of which was supposed to constitute “Jewishness.” In other words, Judaism became a psychological quality…

A whole litany of psychological characteristics were attributed to the “Jew in general,” Arendt continues, including the qualities of “inhumanity, greed, insolence, cringing servility, and determination to push ahead.”

J.E. Rivers, in Proust and The Art of Love: The Aesthetics of Sexuality in the Life, Times, and Art of Marcel Proust, explores in great detail how anti-gay and anti-Jewish psychological stereotypes were exploited in social, cultural and political situations, the Dreyfus Affair being the prototype. Proust, as Arendt explains, being homosexual and half-Jewish, was guilty of both “the ‘vice’ of Jewishness and the ‘vice’ of homosexuality.”

It was only two months ago, in March 2013, that the French Ministry of Defense for the first time make public

the entire contents of the infamous secret dossier that the French army used against Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish artilleryman, in a bogus treason case it brought against him in December 1894, sentencing him to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island in French Guiana…

This case sparked a shattering national scandal known as the Dreyfus Affair, in which conservatives vehemently affirmed the guilt of “the Jewish traitor” even when faced with evidence, galvanizing to a whole generation of liberal politicians and intellectuals (including Proust), that the military had framed Dreyfus…


Psychological stereotyping also became stock in trade for Southern racists in the United States. As Ralph Ellison elaborates in “An Extravagance of Laughter,” Negroes, “whether educated or ignorant, prosperous or poor,”

were perceived as barely controllable creatures of untamed instincts, and a group against whom all whites were obligated to join in the effort required for keeping them within their assigned place. This mindless but widely held perception was given doctrinal credibility through oppressive laws and an endless rhetorical reiteration of anti-Negro stereotypes. Negroes were seen as ignorant, cowardly, thieving, lying, hypocritical and superstitious in their religious beliefs and practices, morally loose, drunken, filthy of personal habit, sexually animalistic, rude, crude and disgusting in their public conduct.

Glenn Stehle said...

Significant evidence is only recently beginning to emerge that indicates that Manning has also been falsely, but nevertheless quite successfully, stigmatized by a well-oiled necon smear machine.

For instance, in a recent interview Julian Assange paints a very different picture of Manning than that of the stereotypical gay male. Here’s what Assange had to say about Manning:

I thought the mainstream media … portrayal of him was to remove any heroic qualities from him. And a heroic quality is deciding to do something, as opposed to it being an unconscious, unreasoned expression of madness or sexual frustration or whatever... So they stripped him of—attempted to strip him of all his refinements.

You could say, look, he’s a rare event. Why does a rare event happen? Well, what do we know? Most people weren’t able to do this... We know that he was interested in politics early on, and he’s very articulate, and outspoken, and didn’t like lies. And we know that he was interested in the state of the world. And we know that he was skilled at his job of being an intelligence analyst. And these things suggest that if you’re going to say, what, be careful, that the combination of abilities and motivations that might cause an action, here are talents and virtues that could perceivably give rise to the phenomenon. But instead people go … “Oh, he’s a homosexual—this is the answer.”


Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater and Dirty Wars, also paints a very different picture of Manning than what neocos, LGBT or otherwise, do.

In a recent interview, Scahill says it would be "impossible to quantify the significance" of the information released by Wikileaks, whose source was Manning, in "the understanding of overt and covert US actions.“ Those convert actions include, as Scahill goes on to explain, the hunting down and murder of people by warlords hired by the US covert ops in various African countries.

"We're going to look back decades from now and realize that because of the release of those documents there was a huge shift in how we understand some of the more hidden aspects of US policy," Scahill concludes. This portion of Scahill’s interview can be seen here:


Scahill says he was in touch with Manning, and Manning was a source for him as well. It was, in fact, Manning who tipped Scahill off to the fact that Eric Prince of Blackwater fame had left the United States. As Scahill goes on to elaborate:

In fact, I will tell you a story that I have never told publicly before.... Eric Prince decides to leave the United States and go to Abu Dhabi. Well I found out about that before it was ever public, because I got an email from a young man, a guy who, you know, said I’ve read your book and I’ve seen you on TV and I really respect your work. And I have a personal connection to someone who...has information about the Prince family... And through that contact I learned that Eric Prince was preparing to leave the United States. And the person who wrote me that email was Bradley Manning.

This portion of Scahill’s interview can be viewed here:


So let me get this straight: Manning was reading books on politics and society. That’s quite a different image of him than that of the stereotypical homosexual being evangelized by neocon LGBTs.

Unknown said...

thanks babe for the complete and concise episode. loving you for you being you and letting me be me, your T as in Tamara.

John Tango Iversen said...

Everyone send Sarah Silverman a polite message asking her to not be a Grand Marshall until they re-instate Bradley and Dan Ellsberg. Her FaceBook page allows messsages. If you know the other Grand Marshalls ask them to drop out as well. There are numerous ways we can gum the works, such as demanding boycotts of corp sponsors.