Chelsea Manning parade retraction still creating tension on SF Pride board

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesChelsea Manning

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesChelsea Manning

In April, San Francisco Pride announced the selection of Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning as this year’s parade grand marshal. The Army private, who is currently serving 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, is now living as a female behind bars and is considered a catalyst for ending the Iraq War.

Local LGBT activists applauded S.F. Pride for the contentious selection, seen as a radical step for an organization widely criticized for being firmly beholden to commercial interests.

Days later, however, then-Pride President Lisa Williams retracted the selection with a news release. Williams denounced Manning’s actions as endangering the lives of men and women in uniform, a fabrication that had been extensively debunked by military officials.

Some believed the retraction only solidified the perception of the S.F. Pride organization as “spineless,” “cowardly” and ethically ambiguous for still accepting money from corporations such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, both sued by the U.S. government for alleged mortgage fraud.

Protests followed. Former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers, and activist Lt. Dan Choi expressed their support of honoring Manning, and a formal complaint was filed to the Human Rights Commission. In addition, a second news release was sent out by Pride, clarifying that the retraction stemmed from the fact that Manning was not a Bay Area community member.

In June, more than 1,000 people marched on behalf of Manning in the parade; ironically, they were the largest noncorporate entity.

Concerns and community mistrust still loomed over San Francisco Pride’s evident lack of transparency and the different stories regarding Manning’s retraction. Did corporate sponsors threaten to back out of Pride if the honor was upheld?

Aiming to be a harbinger of a new era within the organization, a group of seven accountability candidates vied for open spots on the S.F. Pride board of directors. Only one of them, Jesse Oliver Sanford, was reportedly threatened by then-Pride CEO Earl Plante to back out. Plante was forced to resign, Williams became acting CEO and Davace Chin replaced her as president.

In the election meeting Sept. 15, six of the seven new accountability candidates, including Sanford, received enough votes, but Vice President Lou Fischer issued a “no winners” decision after Chin fainted and was hospitalized after a grueling 11-hour dispute.

The following week, the accountability candidates were elected to the board, eventually selecting a new president and vice president from among themselves.

Despite the new leadership, tensions remain. It seems that despite their promise to create a more transparent future moving forward, the new SF Pride board members are stuck trying to rectify the problems of the past. How can we expect them to address divisive issues in our community if they can’t even sit in the same room and face each other without fainting? The more things change, the more it’s us versus them.

Oscar Raymundo is the head of marketing at a leading LGBT media company. Email him at oraymundo@sfexaminer.comBay Area NewsChelsea ManningOscar RaymundoSan Francisco PrideWikileaks

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The City has struggled to conduct outreach in some neighborhoods as it works to expand Slow Streets — such as this section of Page Street in the Lower Haight — to underserved neighborhoods. <ins>(Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
SFMTA delays vote on Bayview Slow Streets, approves five others in ‘underserved’ areas

SFMTA struggles to conduct outreach in neighborhoods with lower internet access

Stern Grove Festival organizers are planning to bring back the popular summer concert series — The Isley Brothers show in 2019 is pictured — with limited audience capacity. (Ming Vong/S.F. Examiner)
Indoor shows won’t be flooding SF stages soon but Stern Grove might be back in June

While San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced that live performances may resume… Continue reading

San Francisco Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto  (47) started on Opening Day against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on April 9, 2021. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Giants welcome fans back with strong performance by Cueto

By Ethan Kassel Special to S.F. Examiner ORACLE PARK — The first… Continue reading

James Harbor appears in court after he was arrested on charges in the July 4th shooting death of 6-year-old Jace Young on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Murder case heads to trial over killing of 6-year-old Jace Young

Hearing reveals new details in ‘horrific’ Fourth of July shooting

BART passengers may see more frequent service by this fall. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
BART service increases possible as soon as September

Proposal would double weekday, daytime trains and extend system operating hours

Most Read