SF Prides Meeting on Manning Goes Awry-Media & Community Turned Away

Pentagon Papers whistle blower, Daniel Ellsberg, speaks with a reporter from Fox Channel 2

Pentagon Papers whistle-blower, Daniel Ellsberg, speaks with a reporter from Fox Channel 2

The public meeting called by SF Pride Committee on Tues, May 7th to address community concerns and questions regarding the de-selection of whistle-blower Bradley Manning as Honorary Grand Marshall of the Pride Parade ended with media and protestors locked out.

The meeting, set for 7PM at the Pride Office on Pearl St., saw a crowd of about seventy-five arrive early to line up at the doors of Pride’s office building in anticipation of getting to address the issue with the Board directly.

Photo: Marke Bieschke

Photo: Marke Bieschke

The crowd was comprised of the news media, Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg representing Mr. Manning, pro-Manning activists from  Code PInk, Gray Panthers, Bradley Manning Support Network, ACT UP/SF as well as members of the community who’d come to show support for Pride’s decision to oust Manning.

Who wasn’t there was anyone from Pride’s Board. No one to greet the throng and calm the situation, explain the process that would take place, or act as a public liaison between themselves and the media.

Crowded into Pride's office foyer

Crowded into Pride’s office foyer

15 minutes after the appointed meeting start-time, building doors finally opened and the crowd moved into a very small and narrow lobby queueing to ride the elevator up to Pride’s offices. Their access to the elevator was immediately blocked by an unidentified member of the Board and security who stated that no cameras would be allowed into the event.

The crowd began to chant, “Let the press in!” while those in front jockeyed for space on the elevator. In the end approximately 15 people were allowed upstairs to attend the meeting-a few members of the press including a reporter from the B.A.R., Daniel Ellsberg, former Grand Marshall Gary Virgninia and blogger/activist, Michael Petrelis. Once that initial group entered the elevator to Pride’s office, the conveyance was turned off keeping anyone else from going up.

According to those who were allowed in after basic Pride Committee formalities were accomplished, members of the public were reminded of the no-cameras rule and told they’d be given one minute each to comment on the subject.

Downstairs on the street the crowd continued to grow. They were very angry about the lack of cooperation that was showed and started chanting in front of the building on Market St from the MUNI F lines elevated stop, “They say court-martial, we say Grand Marshall!”

SFPD showed up informing the community via Pride spokespeople that Pride would let in only 15 people at a time to comment. When one group was done, they’d exit, and another would enter for their turn. SFPD also set officers in stairwells and on the perimeters of the event to, in their words, ‘maintain order’.

SFPD speaks to crowd on behalf of Pride Committee

SFPD speaks to crowd on behalf of Pride Committee Photo: Liz Highleyman

Forty five minutes into Pride’s scheduled one hour meeting no other members of the community beyond the original handful had been let in.

By 8:15, Pride informed those remaining who’d wish to comment that the meeting was canceled and would be rescheduled at a larger venue on a date to be announced. People were, to say the least, not amused and for a brief time a sit in occurred in the building’s lobby.

From my perspective, as one of the media kept on the outside-along with other notable journalists like SF Bay Guardian’s Marke Bieschke, Pride’s idea of a ’community’ meeting, to be blunt, was a shit-show and a public relations debacle of epic proportions.

What could’ve been a productive meeting turned into a power-struggle where a few people’s voices were heard while a resolution for many in the community remained unattained.

The Board must have anticipated that a large crowd would show up, but instead of moving the meeting to a larger venue like the LGBT Center across the street from Pride’s office, they chose to keep it in-house in a small, inadequate space.

Photo: Liz Highleyman

Photo: Liz Highleyman

The Board has issued several long explanations about why Manning doesn’t qualify for the Hon. Grand Marshall distinction (not local so therefore void), how those who nominated and voted for him were wrong (as past members they knew the rules and chose to ignore them), and have also released rambling explanations for all their actions of the past week that have neither calmed nor sated anyone. Their lack of transparency and refusal to allow media/cameras-even those from mainstream outlets like Fox Channel 2-into their own forum is suspect and unnecessary.

If the Pride Committee wants to quell the uprising, they’d better act soon, and in good faith, to resolve the situation or the 2013 Pride event will be tainted with the controversy and in all likelihood see more drama play out in demonstrations by outraged activists during the parade itself.

Waiyde Palmer

Waiyde Palmer loves San Francisco, social activism and punk rock(ers). His work has appeared in Handbook Magazine. SF Bay Times, The Advocate, Diseased Pariah News and American Music Press . He also has an extensive and repeatedly redacted FBI file.

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24 Responses

  1. Sister Roma says:

    Excellent coverage of a very heated and difficult situation. As a former GM I do feel compelled to say that I did not see any questionable conduct by the Pride board with regard to the electoral college nomination or voting process. I received an email inviting me to make my nomination which was accepted. A few weeks later I received another email asking for my vote and I assume it was counted. However, I was not aware that a Community Grand Marshal must be local as it was not stated in any “rules” during the nomination process. That being said, Manning was allowed to appear on the electoral college list of nominees and was reported to have won the votes necessary to make him a Community Grand Marshal. If that is accurate and true I feel that the Pride Board should stand by that decision and allow Manning to be honored at Pride in June, especially in light of the huge public support Manning is being shown from our community.

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    • rblack says:

      The whole thing is fishy.

      Why even have him on the ballot if he was “too controversial”? Why announce he’s won, if he hadn’t?

      It’s pure speculation, but I think the larger corporate sponsors heard about it and privately voiced their objection.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

      • Glenn Stehle says:

        This too is my suspicion, that some corporate sponsors threatened to pull the plug.

        Either that, or the memo that Bradley Manning was out came down from on high from the Obama administration.

        Doesn’t SF Pride receive public funds? I don’t know about California, but in Texas any organization that receives public funding must follow the same open meetings and open records laws that the government itself does.

        So with open records requests perhaps one might get to the bottom of what is going on. Also, if recipients of public monies in California are required by law to follow public meetings laws, it seems like SF Prides’ actions last night could have placed its public funding in jeopardy.

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    • Patrick says:

      Why all this idle speculation about corporate sponsors? Manning’s election as Grand Marshal was opposed by people in our community, specifically Zoe Dunning and the American Military Partners Association who announced a boycott of SF Pride. Frankly, coming on the heels of the repeal of DADT, Manning’s election as grand marshal comes as a slap in the face of gay and lesbian service personnel.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

      • Glenn Stehle says:

        A “slap in the face of gay and lesbian service personnel,” or a slap in the face of a rump group of gay and lesbian service personnel?

        But even if a majority of gay and lesbian service personnel feel as you do, why should that dictate what the larger community does? Gay and lesbian service personnel, after all, constitute only a tiny minority of the overall LGBT population. And certainly their life experiences are unique compared to the rest of us. Do the values, opinions, attitudes and beliefs of the majority of us count for nothing?

        Actually, the rhetorical strategy of a small minority claiming to speak for the entire community comes right straight out of the neoconservative playbook. Anyone who follows the notorious neocon David Brooks on the pages of the NY Times has seen this rhetorical strategy employed numerous times.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

        • Patrick says:

          You seem to be suggesting that those who hold a minority view should be silenced in favor of those who are in the majority. We would have little to celebrate on Pride Day if more people felt as you do, considering that gay people only constitute +/- 3% of the total population

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

          • Glenn Stehle says:

            Well I suppose a good offense is the best defense, because it’s rather obvious that it’s the Pride SF board that’s in the business of silencing dissent.

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  2. Patrick says:

    Honoring Breanna Manning (recall she announced that she is transgendered and now identifies as female) is a slap in the face to gay service personnel serving with honor in the US military, unlike the little quisling who violated her oath, because she was having a hissy fit. This is someone to celebrate? Puh-leez.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

    • Glenn Stehle says:

      @ Patrick

      Can you explain why you harbor these irrational prejudices against transgendered persons?

      Undoubtely transgendered persons come in all stripes, but in my lifetime I have known several who are the antithesis of what you describe: They were serious, dedicated, hard-working individuals who operated with the highest personal and professional ethics.

      And then there are the highly accomplished transgendered persons in academia who have attained considerable success and recognition. One is Joan Roughgarden (born Jonathan Roughgarden), who is one the world’s most preeminent ecologists and evolutionary biologists. As of 2011 she is the author of 8 books and over 178 articles. She can be seen on a panel here at The Science Network, where she debates other world-renowned scientists:

      http://thesciencenetwork.org/programs/beyond-belief-science-religion-reason-and-survival/session-3-3

      Another is Deirdre McCloskey (born Donald N. McCloskey), who given her conservative views I would say is on your team. She is distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago who has written sixteen books and around 400 scholarly pieces.

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    • Glenn Stehle says:

      @Patrick

      By the way, the person who completely changed my conception of transgendered people was Tere Frederickson, who strangely enough was a retired fighter pilot, as she explains here:

      “I also worked for “T” vets inclusion in GLBVA during those years and VA support of “T” vets (which finally happened recently) – I’m a retired USAF Major and Command Pilot. During the ‘90s I was a rather prolific writer; although, quite a bit of it is probably lost to transgender antiquity. I’ve been lecturing on gender, gender roles, and the “T” topic at Trinity University for the past 16 years.”

      http://research.cristanwilliams.com/2012/03/09/tere-fredrickson-interview/

      I must say that, after being in the trenches with Tere in the LGBT movement in Texas during the 90s, I only have the greatest of respect and admiration for her.

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      • Patrick says:

        I harbor no prejudices against transgendered persons. I was only referring to Breanna Manning as she referred to herself.

        http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/bradley-manning-defense-reveals-alter-ego-named-brianna-manning/

        “Witnesses at today’s pre-trial hearing were asked by defense attorneys if they knew that Manning is gay and suffered from gender identity disorder. They noted that he had created a female alter ego, calling himself Breanna Manning.”

        That being the case, it would be insensitiveand transphobic to continue to call Breanna by her male name “Bradley” if she identifies as a woman.

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

        • Glenn Stehle says:

          Well you know, there are those of us who believe Manning’s court-martial is nothing but a show trial, and Manning’s defense attorney is just part of the show.

          There are also those of us who take these so-called “scientific” classifications, such as “gender identity disorder,” with a rather large grain of salt.

          You apparently are a newcomer to LGTB activism, for those of us who have been around for a while know that the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual” published by the American Psychiatric Associaiton in 1952 listed homosexuality in the “Sexual Deviation” categoty included under “Sociopathic Personality Disorder.”

          In the second edition of the DSM, published in 1968, homosexuality was no longer placed in the sociopathic category, but it was still considered a mental disorder and an example of sexual deviation.

          As Richard C. Friedman explains in “Male Homosexuality,”

          “Shortly after the publication of DSM-II, the idea that homosexuality per se was a form of psychopathology came under widespread criticism. A series of dramatic and astonishing events occurred, including acrimonious debates between proponents and opponents of the patholigcal view of homosexuality, a poll of the members of the American Psychiatric Association, and disruption of scientific meetings by gay activists.”

          In the third edition of the manual, published in 1980, homosexuality was deleted as a mental disorder. The category of “Ego-dystonic Homosexuality” was reserved for individuals who experience unwanted, distressing sexual arousal.

          In the revised edition of DSM-III (DSM-III-R), published in 1987, even ego-dystonic homosexuality was dropped as a diagnostic category.

          According to R.V. Bayer, writing in “Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis,” the revised judgment about the pathological significance of homosexual behavior is “one of the most dramatic reversals of opinion on a health illness issue in the history of medicine.”

          Given this experience, It is unfathomable to me that anyone in the LGBT community would hang their hat on psychiatric classifications of psychological disorders, which have been demonstrated to be dubious, in order to demonize someone.

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          • Patrick says:

            That is as may be. I mentioned it only to show that Breanna Manning referred to herself as a woman. If she is truly transgendered, then we owe her the respect of calling her by her female name. To call her by the name “Bradley” would be transphobic.

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          • Glenn Stehle says:

            @ Patrick says:

            “I mentioned it only to show that Breanna Manning referred to herself as a woman. If she is truly transgendered, then we owe her the respect of calling her by her female name.”

            Oh really? Then what was all this about?

            “Honoring Breanna Manning (recall she announced that she is transgendered and now identifies as female) is a slap in the face to gay service personnel serving with honor in the US military, unlike the little quisling who violated her oath, because she was having a hissy fit.”

            Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  3. Glenn Stehle says:

    I can’t believe it! I feel like the perennial anti-authoritarian Albert Einstein, who 60 years ago flip-flopped from being an avid anti-Communist to being an avid anti-McCarthyite.

    As Susan Neiman explains, “by the time McCarthyism was in full swing, the HUAC had compiled lists of subversive organizations. Anyone associated with any of them, was ipso facto suspected of treason. Einstein was connected with 33.“ But even before his foray into anti-McCarthyism, Einstein had become the target of a group called the Women Patriots, described in their own newspaper as anti-suffragists waging an unceasing war against feminism and socialism. Some of their charges: “Albert Einstein advocates acts of rebellion against the basic principle of all organized government…He advocates conflict with public authority; admits that his attitude is revolutionary…he teaches and leads and organizes a movement for unlawful individual resistance and acts of rebellion against officers of the United States in times of war.“ The charges go on for 16 single-spaced pages. They led to interrogation by the U.S. Consul in Berlin, to whom Einstein pointed out that he hadn‘t asked to go to America but was invited there, and would cancel his trip if the visa wasn‘t delivered in 24 hours. His wife then relayed Einstein‘s words to the NY Times: “Wouldn‘t it be funny if they won‘t let me in? The whole world will be laughing at America.“ http://www.susan-neiman.de/docs/t_subversive_einstein.html

    And myself? I went to bat for gay conservatives twenty years ago, not so much because I agreed with their politics, but because I believed they were unfairly being shut out of the LGBT political sphere. Now LGBTs, along with the rest of the nation I suppose, have drifted so far in the neocon-neoliberal direction (and we see this trend not just in the Republican Party but also in the Rubenite wing of the Democratic Party) that the shoe has shifted to the other foot.

    In their demonization of Bradley Manning, the neocon/neoliberal shock troops have gone out of their way to appeal to anti-gay stereotypes. According to neocon/neoliberal lore, Manning 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 this: 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…”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-12/dreyfus-proust-and-the-crimes-of-the-belle-epoque.html

    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.”

    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/neoliberal 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.’ ”

    http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/page2/listen_chris_hedges_interviews_julian_assange_20130505/

    Jeremy Scahill, author of “Blackwater” and “Dirty Wars,” also paints a very different picture of Manning than what neocon/neoliberals, 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:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWqQNG03MhU&feature=player_detailpage#t=4935s

    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:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWqQNG03MhU&feature=player_detailpage#t=4696s

    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 those LGBTs who have drank the neocon/neoliberal Kool-Aid.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    • rblack says:

      You make some excellent points, but in today’s “TLDR” culture, few will read your lengthy post.

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Patrick says:

      Well I read it and I’m not buying it. In 1998, the UN Commission on Human Rights officially recognized that persons [already] performing military service may develop conscientious objections. If Manning truly believed that she could not serve, given what she knew about the U.S. Military’s actions then she could have declared herself a conscientious objector. But no, instead she released 250,000 cables. At the time she said:

      “Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public … Everywhere there’s a US post, there’s a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed. Worldwide anarchy in CSV format … It’s beautiful, and horrifying.”

      She sounds like a queen on a power trip to me.

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

      • Glenn Stehle says:

        What is it about the truth that you find so threatening?

        In her essay “Lying in Politics” Hannah Arendt gave a devastating assessment of the Pentagon Papers. “The basic issue raised by the papers,” she said, “is deception,” “the extravagant lengths to which the commitment to nontruthfulness in politics went on at the highest level of government,” and “the concomitant extent to which lying was permitted to proliferate throughout the ranks of all government services, military and civilian.”

        “No reality and no common sense could penetrate the minds” of McNamara and his generals, Arendt adds. “It is the remoteness from reality that will haunt the reader of the Pentagon papers.”

        “The crucial point here is not merely that the policy of lying was hardly ever aimed at the enemy (this is one of the reasons why the papers do not reveal any military secrets that could fall under the Espionage Act),” Arendt goes on to explain, “but was destined chiefly, if not exclusively, for domestic consumption, for propaganda at home.”

        The papers which Bradley Manning released reveal exactly the same phenomenon: “the extravagant lengths to which the commitment to nontruthfulness in politics went on at the highest level of government.” Just exactly why is you believe the American people do not have a right to know this?

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  4. Peter says:

    And the Godwin award goes to…

    Two years ago, the US military demonized LGBT servicemembers for being gay. Today some in our “community” are demonizing LGBT servicemembers for being soldiers.

    This is progress?

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    • Glenn Stehle says:

      Lordy! Lordy!

      Is that what passes for debate in neocon these days?

      Where was Hitler or Nazism ever mentioned in my comment?

      And where are these people amongst us who “are demonizing LGBT servicemembers for being soldiers”? I haven’t seen any blanket condemnation of soldiers, only condemnation of those soldiers who have committed war crimes.

      And what is it about this impulse to circle the wagons in order to cover up for and protect bad apples? We see it all the time. We saw it in the Catholic Church with child abuse. We saw it at Penn State with Joe Paterno and almost the entire officialdom of the university, who conspired to cover up decades of child sexual abuse committed by Jerry Sandunsky. And we saw it when Houston’s lesbian mayor attempted to cover up poice abuse:

      http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2011/02/04/black-activist-releases-vid-of-houston-police-beating-15-year-old-suspect/

      So what am I supposed to do? Support Mayor Annise Parker’s cover-up of police abuse out of solidarity, because she’s a member of the tribe?

      Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  5. This is an excellent piece about some of the b.s. that the board pulled last night. I say some because you had the b.s. happening with the board on the fourth floor, the b.s. of shutting off the elevator at the entrance on Pearl Street and the b.s. at the exit on Market Street. Who could keep track of all the b.s. that Pride created yesterday?

    You’re right about Pride needing to act in good faith and quickly too. If last night is any indication of where they’re headed, we’re all in for more trouble.

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  1. May 8, 2013

    [...] handfuls of others in.” 125 Try to Attend SF Pride Meeting Over Manning Debacle [Petrelis] [Castro Biscuit] [...]

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