By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com April 28 2013 1:59 PM ET
A group of LGBT activists is calling for a protest against the San Francisco Pride Committee’s rescinding of naming whistleblower Bradley Manning as a grand marshal of June's Pride celebrations.
Gay and lesbian peace and social justice activists Michael Petrelis, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, and Lisa Geduldig are behind the call to action. The group says that SF Pride is turning its back on activism and dissent, after the board president, Lisa Williams, released a statement on Saturday saying that Manning being named a grand marshal was a mistake by a lone employee that underscored a systemic problem in how grand marshals are chosen.
“Even the hint of support for actions which placed in harm’s way the lives of our men and women in uniform, and countless others, military and civilian alike, will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride,” Williams said.
"Our message to SF Pride is that they should make Manning a grand marshal of this year's Pride march and celebration because of his brave act of whistleblowing against the military industrial complex," said Petrelis. "We are fed up with marriage and military concerns sucking the oxygen out of what used to be a queer movement and Pride march and celebration about social justice for queers."
Manning, a U.S. Army soldier, was arrested in 2010 after passing classified documents about the Iraw war to Wikileaks. Since his trial is set to begin in June, he would have served as grand marshal in absentia. The initial grand marshal announcement about Manning, who identifies as either gay or transgender, caused a flurry of debate in LGBT community nationwide, especially in military and veteran circles.
“He's an antiwar hero, a whistleblower who is gay," says Geduldig. "He was lipsynching to Lady Gaga while downloading classified documents. It doesn’t get more gay than that.”
The organizers are asking participants to carry “I Am Bradley Manning” signs and to wear Manning masks, which can be downloaded here.