Large Turnout of Manning Supporters Expected at SF Pride
The state of the LGBT community, on the eve of Pride Month, is strong, proud, and ready to celebrate 38 days from now. Many marchers will not only be celebrating their sexuality, relationships and, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s help, possibly marriage equality, but a large number are expected to march in support of imprisoned gay Army private first class Bradley Manning.
Although the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee board rescinded Manning’s grand marshal honor late last month, many of his supporters continue to view him as a community grand marshal. At a recent mock Pride board meeting, local activists who were present unanimously voted to reinstate grand marshal status on Manning, the whistle-blower who leaked 700,000 classified government documents to WikiLeaks. He has confessed to some of the charges against him and is awaiting a court-martial on the others.
In an unscientific polling of individuals at events around the Castro in recent days, the b-word, as in boycott, was mentioned, but it was not a popular idea, even from some who previously endorsed it.
In a letter to the editor of the Bay Area Reporter last week, San Francisco resident Loren P. Meissner Jr. announced a Facebook page titled "Boycott SF Pride 2013 unless Bradley Manning is made Grand Marshal." At press time, the page had only 29 Likes and the majority of the postings on the page urged against a boycott.
Meissner told the B.A.R. that his call for a boycott of Pride’s sponsors was solely as an individual. There appeared to be no community support for such a drastic measure.
Craig Scott authored two postings on Meissner’s page. On May 12, he wrote, "We ought to boycott Pride’s sponsors." On May 13, he posted, "No boycott, instead a massive demonstration."
On May 8, former Pride board president and past grand marshal Joey Cain, 58, responded to Meissner’s boycott and posted, "I have to disagree with boycotting the SF Pride Parade and Celebration. Not being there will say nothing. Showing up and marching in the Bradley Manning contingent will send a major message to both the SF Pride board and all of America."
By phone, Cain said among his large community of contacts the boycott was not "catching on." He said no one has joined it and he sees no community interest in any boycotts.
Cain went on to say he knew of people who had not marched in five years who were energized to march this year in support of Manning. He said he expects a much larger Manning contingent this year than in 2012.
Cain could not estimate how large the contingent would be this year, but he said the contingent’s application submitted to SF Pride, before the Manning controversy, was for 100 people. He said he advised the contingent, with which he will march, to re-submit the application for as many as 500 marchers.
East Bay resident and LGBT ally Michael Thurman, an organizer for the Bradley Manning Support Network, said the group had 150 marchers last year. He confirmed he was working to re-submit their application to increase the number of marchers to 500.
Thurman, 25, said he had worked on the Manning Pride contingent for the past three years, and, if the turnout is as expected, it would be a record for them in San Francisco and possibly a record for any Pride parade in the nation.
The Air Force veteran said SF Pride would have to approve the revised application. He did not know how long the approval process would take. Local marchers will be joined from other Manning supporters from around the state, he said. He could not say, at this time, if any VIPs, other than Pentagon papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, planned to join the Manning contingent.
In the Castro, Pride was very much on the minds of people.
Hayes Valley resident Malcom Gregory Scott, 51 (no relation to Craig Scott), said he was disappointed Manning would not be a grand marshal.