On April 24, the homosexualist Bay Area Reporter announced the list of grand marshals for San Francisco’s 2013 “Gay Pride Parade.” Among those named was California Attorney General Kamala Harris. She was joined by imprisoned U.S. Army private Bradley Manning. Manning has already pled guilty to a number of charges related to releasing classified information. He has not yet entered a plea to the charge of “aiding the enemy.” That charge carries the death penalty, although prosecutors have said they will decline to pursue it. Manning will be liable to life imprisonment.
Manning’s activities were made known to the FBI by a “hacker” named Adrian Lamo. In a December 19, 2010 article in the Sunday Times, writer Ed Caesar quoted Lamo “I knew that, unless stopped, he was going to continue to leak, and continue to endanger lives.”
During his brief military career Manning also punched a female intelligence officer in the face and was considered sufficiently unstable for his Master Sergeant to remove the bolt from his rifle.
None of this was considered disqualifying by the Pride parade. But the choice quickly provoked outrage amongst members of the armed services. Within 24 hours of the announcement, the Pride committee was walking back the honor. On April 25, Lisa Williams, president of the SF Pride Board issued a somewhat contradictory press release, which began by blaming one person for the fiasco: “Bradley Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year’s San Francisco Pride celebration. His nomination was a mistake and should never have been allowed to happen. A staff person at SF Pride, acting under his own initiative, prematurely contacted Bradley Manning based on internal conversations within the SF Pride organization. That was an error and that person has been disciplined. He does not now, nor did he at that time, speak for SF Pride.”
But the final paragraph of the release enlarged the web of blame in a significant way:
“Specifically, what these events have revealed is a system whereby a less-than-handful of people may decide who represents the LGBT community’s highest aspirations as grand marshals for SF Pride. This is a systemic failure that now has become apparent and will be rectified. In point of fact, less than 15 people actually cast votes for Bradley Manning. These 15 people are part of what is called the SF Pride Electoral College, comprised of former SF Pride Grand Marshals. However, as an organization with a responsibility to serve the broader community, SF Pride repudiates this vote.”
The choice of someone as defective as Manning as a “Pride” Grand Marshal is not unprecedented. In 2003, the parade named Larry Brinkin, “San Francisco Gay Rights Icon” and a staff member of San Francisco’s Human’s Rights Commission, as a Grand Marshal. In January of 2012, Brinkin was arrested on charges of child pornography. The SF Bay Citizen reported at the time: “One photo shows a child about 2 to 3 years old being sexually abused, according to the search warrant. Another shows an adult male attempting to receive oral sex from a small child….Brinkin’s account was linked to several Yahoo discussion groups on the sexual exploitation of children, according to the search warrant. Emails from Brinkin’s account to other users contained stories police suspect were fictional accounts written by Brinkin. The stories describe the rape and torture of African American children, according to the search warrant. One of the emails contained the words ‘White Power! White Supremacy!’”
In 1999 the parade’s grand marshal was Harry Hay, who had defended NAMBLA, the National Man Boy Love Association. In a 1983 New York University forum, Hay had said “”[I]f the parents and friends of gays are truly friends of gays, they would know from their gay kids that the relationship with an older man is precisely what thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-year-old kids need more than anything else in the world.”