For Immediate Release
LGBT Leaders Champion WikiLeaks Soldier After SF Pride Controversy
WASHINGTON - Last Wednesday, it was publicly announced that WikiLeaks whistleblower and Army private first class Bradley Manning had been named grand marshal of the SF Gay Pride Celebration, the largest gathering of LGBT (lesbian gay bisexual transgender) individuals in the United States. But a recently formed gay military group organized a protest, and two days later the president of the SF Pride Celebration Committee, Lisa Williams, issued an announcement retracting the honor.
Following a protest outside the SF Pride's office this Monday, in which nearly 200 community members called for PFC Manning to be reinstated as grand marshal, the San Francisco Bay Guardian has today published a letter by 26 LGBT celebrities, community leaders, and past SF Pride officials which states that,
“We are proud to embrace PFC Bradley Manning as one of our icons... We think Bradley Manning sets a high standard for what a U.S. serviceperson, gay or straight, can be."
One of the veteran signers, Lt. Dan Choi, gained recognition in 2009 when he came out as gay on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show. He subsequently was discharged from the armed forces, participated in a hunger strike which helped end Don't Ask Don't Tell, and was honored at the 2009 SF Pride Celebration. Of his role in signing his name in support of PFC Manning, he said,
“Being on this petition is now a greater honor than having served as 2009 [SF Pride] 'Celebrity Grand Marshal.'"
Since his arrest in May 2010, young, openly gay PFC Manning has garnered plenty of controversy, earning three Nobel Peace Prize nominations, as well as condemnation from some prominent pro-military U.S. political officials. In their letter, the 26 LGBT community leaders explain they are seeking to dispel misinformation put forth in Williams' statement, such as the accusation that PFC Manning's actions endangered people worldwide, or that he was not active for gay rights. They state that PFC Manning campaigned against DADT, including "attending a fundraiser with Gavin Newsom and the Stonewall Democrats so he could discuss the issue of homophobia in the military." They continue, "his experience living under DADT and experiencing the oppression that entailed helped increase his interest in politics more generally.”
Most importantly, they say, "We want the world to know that the SF Pride board’s decision is not reflective of the LGBTQ community as a whole, and that many of us proudly celebrate PFC Manning as a member of our community."
View the entire letter on the SF Bay Guardian's website: http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2013/05/02/guest-opinion-lgbt-supporters-br...
For photos of the 2012 SF Bradley Manning Pride Contingent: http://www.flickr.com/photos/savebradley/sets/72157630313906858/