A whirlwind week of LGBTQ action in San Francisco
Mitch Mayne introduced himself as "an openly gay, active Mormon," which is significant since the Mormon Church was a major funder of Prop 8. He called it "one of the most un-Christlike things we have ever done as a religion," but noted that the sordid affair had brought on "a mighty change in heart from inside the Mormon community, with greater tolerance than ever before," with many Mormons going out and marching in solidary with gay and lesbian couples, he said.
Then on June 28, earlier than expected, the County Clerk started issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, plaintiffs in the case against Prop. 8, became the first of dozens of happy couples to be married at City Hall that evening, and the marriages continued in the days that followed.
And as if that weren't enough excitement, it all happened before the weekend, when Pride festivities got underway. This year featured not only the official Pride parade and myriad performances, but also an "Alternative to Pride Parade," signifying that a radical Pride-questioning movement has been reawakened in San Francisco.
"Have you had enough with the poor political choices of some community leaders that claim to represent you? Are you over the over-corporatizing of SF Pride? Or just tired of the same old events that don't reflect who you are, and how you want to celebrate your queer pride?" organizers wrote in a statement announcing the event.
The parade itself, meanwhile, also featured some dissenters. The third annual Bradley Manning Support Network contingent swelled in ranks this year, due to the political maelstrom touched off when the Pride Board rescinded Manning's appointment as Grand Marshal.
The Bradley Manning Support Network contingent attracted more than 2,000 supporters who marched to show solidarity with the openly gay whistleblower, comprising the largest non-corporate contingent in the Parade. Former military strategist Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked secret government documents known as the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971, donned a pink boa and rode alongside his wife, Patricia, in a pick-up truck labeled "Bradley Manning Grand Marshal." Patricia told the Bay Guardian, "There is something about the energy and triumph of this beautiful event ... Just as the gays have made a tremendous difference with marriage, we have to do the same with wars and aggression" in U.S. foreign policy.
Pride's legal counsel, Brooke Oliver — who resigned over the Pride Board's handling of the Manning debacle — marched along with the Bradley Manning contingent. Bevan Dufty, former SF Supervisor and now the mayor's point person on homelessness, stepped down as a Grand Marshal, also because of the Pride Board's actions, but didn't march with the contingent.
Nor were the Bradley Manning supporters the only protest contingent to take part in the parade. A group seized the opportunity to make a political statement by marching with a faux Google bus, an action meant to call attention to gentrification and evictions in San Francisco. They rented a white coach and covered it with signs printed up in a similar font to Google's corporate logo, proclaiming: "Gentrification & Eviction Technologies (GET) OUT: Integrated Displacement and Cultural Erasure."
Some trailed the faux Google bus with an 8-foot banner depicting a blown-up version of an Ellis Act evictions map. Others donned red droplets stamped with "evicted" to signify Google map markers, while a few toted suitcases to represent tenants who'd been sent packing. However, their ranks were thin in comparison with the parade contingents surrounding them, which included crowds of workers representing eBay, DropBox, and, of course, Google — the largest corporate contingent in the parade.