Page 5


Letters >>

May 2-8, 2013 • Bay Area Reporter • 5

Manning does not represent LGBTs

According to the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee’s website, “San Francisco Pride’s grand marshals are the public emissaries of Pride ... that have made significant contributions to the [LGBT] community ... [selected] in order to honor the work they have put into furthering the causes of LGBT people.” Based on the committee’s own description of why a grand marshal is selected, it is astonishing that the committee’s electoral college (made up of past grand marshals) selected Army Private First Class Bradley Manning as a grand marshal for this year’s celebration. Putting aside Manning’s reported mental health issues, one must question the wisdom of selecting a grand marshal that is an admitted criminal, who willfully communicated United States secrets to unauthorized agents and stands accused of aiding the enemy of our nation. Manning gave away classified information containing diplomatic cables and details of military operations, thereby damaging the credibility of the United States and endangering the lives of our military personnel. The only redeeming thing about Manning’s admitted crimes is that he gave the information away rather than selling it to the highest bidder. Does Manning represent the best of our community? Does he represent something young LGBTs should aspire to be? Has he contributed to the community or furthered the cause of LGBT people? The answer to all these questions, for any sane and educated person, should be a resounding no. The electoral college and the Pride Committee should be ashamed of themselves for positing that a confessed criminal represents the very best of our community. Perhaps next year they will posthumously grant the honor to Jeffrey Dahmer or Ernst Rohm in recognition of their contributions to the LGBT community. Frank M. La Fleur San Francisco

Past Pride presidents weigh in

As past presidents of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee board we strongly disagree with Pride board President Lisa Williams and the board of directors who overturned a vote to select Bradley Manning as a grand marshal in this year’s parade. We believe their decision dishonors the history and spirit of LGBT inclusion and diversity that this event must represent. We recognize that Manning’s selection is controversial but Pride has had many controversial grand marshals, speakers, and contingents throughout the years. Rarely has the community stood in complete solidarity behind choices that were made. But the community dialogue, support, and protests occurred and the parade marched on. Pride’s obligation is to create a platform for all voices to be heard not to shut down a debate even if it’s in the context of grand marshal. The San Francisco LGBT community has one of the most diverse, inclusive, and empowering parades in the world. Throughout the years hard working, committed volunteers had the courage to actively embrace and promote the diversity of our community and created space for everyone to be represented and to express their authenticity. If the Pride leadership arbitrarily decides that they will no longer honor or respect the electoral college because they elected a controversial figure, even if they represent a minority of the minority, how is that any different from the conservative majority who rendered us second-class citizens all these years? The board of SF Pride must reinstate Manning as a grand marshal. Calvin Gipson, 1999-2000 Denver, Colorado Cecilia Chung, 2001 Joey Cain, 2003-2006 Nikki Calma 2011-2012 San Francisco

Supporters should campaign for a pardon

Although the selection and subsequent retraction of Private First Class Bradley Manning as a SF Pride grand marshal highlights a maddening tendency of self-anointment among LGBT community spokespeople and activists, it also highlights a misplaced cause among Manning’s supporters. Instead of falsely characterizing Manning’s criminal actions as whistleblowing, his supporters should campaign for a pardon or clemency. Manning’s leaks endangered American servicemen throughout the world, but they were also the criminal actions of a young and very confused man who might thrive if given a second chance. Putting him in jail for life is costly and provides no real benefit to society beyond revenge; regrettably, Manning has not shown any real sign of contrition. If Manning was sufficiently courageous to admit his guilt and ask for forgiveness, a nomination as an LGBT community leader could even

be deserved. Showing clemency would also be a bold and courageous act of leadership by our president at a time when pardons are political suicide. Thomas Busse San Francisco

Manning’s actions were brave

As a Gay Liberation Front activist of the 1970s, I remember the original Pride marches were fueled by militant spirits of Stonewall and Compton Cafeteria rebellions. “Come out of the closets and into the streets,” became a clarion call. Our revolutionary spirit spawned lesbians and gays who later took part in ACT UP, gay health collectives and groups like Radical Faeries, and Lesbians and Gays Against Intervention, which supported international liberation struggles. We called for an end to all forms of oppression. And, how is it justified that members of the Pride Committee can override and negate the voices of past Pride grand marshals? Are they aware that there has been an international call for awarding Bradley Manning the Nobel Peace Prize? This committee does not speak for or represent many of us. Manning speaks for all who want an end to wars. Manning, our LGBTQ whistleblower hero, was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of having passed classified material to the WikiLeaks website. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange praised Manning as a hero who revealed to the world the 2007 Baghdad air strike by an American helicopter that wounded children, killed their father and 11 other men, including a news reporter and his driver. For his courageous act, Manning remains in prison. His first nine months of pretrial incarceration in a 6 by 8 foot cell under solitary conditions was described as “degrading and inhuman” by the United Nations. Manning has been tortured, humiliated, and kept in isolated solitary confinement for years and faces trial on 22 charges, including aiding the enemy. Manning struggles in an environment hostile to homosexuality – including times he was forced to strip naked and once made to stand at attention while nude. Because of Manning’s bravery, the world witnessed the true horrors of war. Manning remains strong and, like many young people, talks of his future, to be free to go to college. Patricia Jackson San Francisco

Manning contingent will march

I was thrilled to see Bradley Manning’s picture on the Bay Area Reporter’s front page after his selection as a grand marshal for the annual LGBT parade [“Pride names grand marshals,” April 25]. Then it all comes crashing down Saturday morning when I learned it was just a “mistake.” How inept and disgusting. The modern LGBT movement grew out of an uprising against state power and repression. The early gay liberation movement modeled itself after the anti-war and black and women’s liberation movements, of standing up to the powers that be and demanding rights and freedom for all people. Manning has revealed the immense scope and reach of our government’s aggressive and imperialistic foreign policy and the suppression of our civil liberties. President Barack Obama and other politicians are now jumping on the tide of marriage equality, while at the same time killing U.S. citizens with drones, prosecuting whistleblowers, and shutting down marijuana dispensaries. Manning has revealed this criminality, and is a gay hero who should be honored and leading our parade, not dropped and discarded shamefully as a “mistake.” I encourage all readers to protest this outrage and to march with the Free Bradley Manning contingent this year to honor his courage and sacrifice, and to demand his freedom. Charlie Hinton San Francisco

Clarifying earlier letter

A closer reading of my letter regarding the CBD and land use issues printed last week [Mailstrom, April 25] indicated my having left out an important word. The sentence in question regarding Wendy Mogg should have been: “Why it was only last June that the CBD board on which she now sits voted to replace the promised three small storefronts in Angus McCarthy’s 2299 Market Street project with a large footprint Bank of the West.” I regret the omission. Without the word “now” one might assume Mogg, as a board member, voted on this approval. Apparently, her newfound interest in the Castro and Upper Market business districts and addition to the CBD board came about only after she felt threatened by Starbucks’ plan to open near her place of business; rather than before. Patrick Batt San Francisco

May 2, 2013 Edition of the Bay Area Reporter  

The undisputed newspaper of record for the San Francisco Bay Area LGBT community and the oldest continuously-published gay newspaper in the...

May 2, 2013 Edition of the Bay Area Reporter  

The undisputed newspaper of record for the San Francisco Bay Area LGBT community and the oldest continuously-published gay newspaper in the...