Wednesday, December 04, 2013

SF Pride Considers Banning Military Recruiters; NAMBLA History

Here is my plea to the board of the San Francisco Pride organization, after attending last night's regular meeting where the item that took up the longest amount of time during the open portion was about potentially banning the U.S. armed forces from renting a booth at Pride Weekend 2014 in Civic Center.

Draft, consider and then vote on a resolution to ban military recruiters at Civic Center just like SF Pride bans any tobacco company from renting a booth. After heavily promoting a town hall forum at the Metropolitan Community Church, the smallish turnout was very pro-peace and a few vets spoke in favor of the military, and months of discussion over complaints recruiters were allowed for the first in June to have a booth, it's time for the board to end the mental masturbation.

No matter how they vote, some faction of the vast local LGBT community is going to be upset. No surprise. However, this divisive issue needs to come to a head so we can move on to the larger structural problems with SF Pride, limping along with an interim executive director, an overwhelmingly white and male (not that there's anything wrong with us white guys) board that needs serious diversification, a reserve of $45,000 or so in the bank, and the Parade just seven months away

Let the gay military brats scream just like they did when Bradley Chelsea Manning was picked as a grand marshal and that honor was rescinded and allow the pro-peace and social justice activist queers a chance to dominate using the levers of SF Pride for our political goals.

I've avoided the Parade for years partially because I couldn't tell if it was a Veterans Day or Queer Power procession on Market Street, there were so many soldiers and the Don't Ask, Don't Tell newsmaker du jour was a grand marshal. Can you recall the same number of queer peace-niks similarly honored for their bravery and grassrootsy organizing?

Our local Pride has been militarized for too many years, to the detriment of progressive queer concerns where affordable housing, renter protections and raising the minimum wage are omitted from the agenda, crowded out by the DADT and gay marriage forces.

Well, the ban on open gays in the military has been lifted, the Supreme Court has ruled gay marriages can proceed in some states and more enact their laws allowing for such marriages, and I'd like to see a reclaiming of SF Pride as a march for liberation and social justice that is not based on propping up corrupt institutions.

During the board discussion, board member Marsha Levine who has long served in several capacities and is a dedicated workhorse, briefed us on the complete tobacco company ban that applies to rejecting their money, prohibiting them from marching or any way associating with SF Pride, and how she was sued in the 1980s as the board president who made the decision to ban the North American Man/Boy Love Association from the Parade.

That led to board colleague Joey Cain's response seen in the video. Following his is David Currie, the treasure of the board.

The board debate will be mentioned at the monthly membership meeting on Tuesday, December 10, at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center on Collingwood near 18th Street, where the main topics on the agenda are suggestions for entertainment at the festival and the grand marshal process and whom to honor in 2014. More info here.


Marsha said...

Correction: I was not sued for banning NAMBLA, Michael, I was threatened with a law suit -IF- SF Pride banned NAMBLA, in both 1990 and 1993. As I said on Tuesday night, neither the banning nor the law suit occurred, following SF Pride's long history of non-discrimination and free speech.

Michael Petrelis said...

Marsh, My apologies for misunderstanding what you said. Happy to publish your note with the correction.