SF Pride Announces Grand Marshal Nominees
Organizers of San Francisco’s LGBT Pride parade and celebration have announced the nominees for the 2014 grand marshals, and voting went live this week.
Public voting for the grand marshals, who typically ride in the parade, will conclude March 17. People may vote at http://www.sfpride.org/vote, which also includes locations for polling stations where people may vote in person.
"We received over 50 nominations for the three categories of awards. The board had a difficult time narrowing it down to the number of people on the ballot. There were so many qualified people and organizations," said Gary Virginia, board president of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee.
There are also three Pink Brick nominees. The faux award is given by Pride each year to someone who has caused significant harm to the LGBT community.
Virginia said the number of qualified nominees "made it very challenging for the board, but ultimately, we feel like we chose individuals and organizations who represent the best of our community," while the Pink Brick nominees especially reflect what’s happening internationally.
Results from public polling will be reviewed and certified by Pride’s board and will be published no later than April 8.
As usual, the nominees are made up of a wide array of community activists.
Individual Grand Marshal Nominees
Brian Basinger has run AIDS Housing Alliance/San Francisco since he founded the group 10 years ago. He’s led the charge to open an LGBT-welcoming homeless shelter in the city, among other efforts. He also co-founded the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Youth Alliance when he was 17 and the Freedom to Marry Task Force of Northern California in 1995.
For years, he’s also been advocating for the rights of low-income renters in the city, especially recently as concern has grown around people being evicted from their homes.
"On behalf of the 2,100 homeless LGBTQ community members who are homeless and the tens of thousands of us who are clinging to hope for our future in San Francisco. On behalf of the countless LGBTQ community members around the globe facing persecution today, who need San Francisco to remain a beacon of hope for a future world where they can be at home by being themselves, to color our world with a pride, I welcome this nomination and invite you to vote for me and my comrade in the struggle for housing rights - Tommi Avicolli Mecca," Basinger said in a Facebook message. [More information on Avicolli Mecca is available later in this list.]
Lenny Broberg is an out gay San Francisco police officer, the 1992 International Mr. Leather, a competitive softball player, and a "highly sought after" emcee and auctioneer, Pride said in a news release. Broberg regularly helps fundraise for groups including AIDS Emergency Fund and the Human Rights Campaign. He’s currently an inspector assigned to the San Francisco Police Department Gang Task Force.
"I was happy and a bit overwhelmed," Broberg said in a Facebook message when asked for his reaction to being nominated. "I am fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in some wonderful events, meet caring and compassionate people and get to make a bit of a difference in someone’s life. To have those efforts acknowledged and recognized by one’s peers and community is truly special."
Judy Grahn is the author of the memoir A Simple Revolution: the Making of an Activist Poet, which chronicles the first 40 years of her life, from her first love to arrest and shaming in the military and on to her founding the Women’s Press Collective in Oakland.
"Her pro-lesbian, pro-woman, pro-LGBTQ, pro-people’s liberation writing helped fuel several movements," Pride’s news release said.
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy has been a transgender activist, instigator, and community organizer for more than 40 years and is currently executive director of the Transgender GenderVariant Intersex Justice Project.
"Miss Major has worked tirelessly for social justice and the human rights of transgender women of color," according to Pride.
Jewlyes Gutierrez, 16, is a transgender student at Hercules Middle/High School who was charged with battery after she reportedly fought back in a schoolyard altercation that came after she had allegedly suffered long-term peer bullying. Her alleged attackers were not similarly charged. A judge recently ordered Gutierrez to enter a conflict resolution program.
Like Basinger, Tommi Avicolli Mecca is also a longtime housing rights advocate. Avicolli Mecca works for the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco and has written or edited four books, the most recent being Smash the Church, Smash the State: The Early Years of Gay Liberation.
Melanie Nathan is an attorney and the founder of Private Courts, a global human rights advocacy firm based in the Bay Area. Nathan is known for her advocacy blog http://www.oblogdeeoblogda.me and for her pro bono work, which includes assisting persecuted LGBT Africans to escape from countries where they are criminalized. She’s also established a rescue fund for LGBT Africans seeking refuge.