Friday, December 06, 2013

S. African-born Gays: Honor Mandela & Lower Milk Plaza Rainbow Flag

(Mandela wearing an HIV positive tee shirt shares an embrace with gay South African AIDS activist Zachie Achmat, in this undated courtesy photo.)

My longtime LGBT friends and cohorts from Gays Without Borders, Clinton Fein and Melanie Nathan, were born in South Africa and now reside in San Francisco, and it just so happens that both are back in their homeland this week.

Clinton and Melanie sent me emails supporting the campaign and petition to Mayor Ed Lee, requesting that he order the iconic rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza on City property to fly at half staff to pay respects to the life and large legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Here's Clinton's message:

I’m in South Africa at the moment, and have long advocated that control of the flag be wrested from MUMC or a clear, community-driven process around lowering it be established, but with the current Supervisor “leading” District 8, there’s more chance of Julius Malema following in Mandela’s footsteps. Malema is a polarizing figure convicted of hate speech in 2010. As a South African born American, it’s kind of embarrassing being a gay San Franciscan right now because the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza has not been lowered for Mandela 

And this came from Melanie:

I too am in South Africa right now. I support the lowering of the flag. There will NEVER be another Mandela. Defying culture upon his release from jail he said never again will anyone in this beautiful land of ours that is South Africa be oppressed. And so the new South African Constitution has the words sexual orientation and gender identity in it. The Castro should honor that and though we still have homophobia in South Africa, the rights and equality for LGBT people exceed that of most countries in the world. We should honor him even just for that.

Please add your name to the petition here to Mayor Lee and ask your friends and colleagues to do likewise. Let's lower the rainbow flag at the Castro's Milk Plaza in solidarity with the LGBT community of South Africa and the entire nation!

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