Bradley Manning: SF Pride's Decision to Exclude Bradley Manning Shows Divisions in the Movement

The LGBT-rights movement is by no means a monolithic group, and the range of opinions was put on full display Wednesday night when famous activists Dan Nicoletta and Anne Kronenberg took the stage at San Francisco's Castro Theater for an event discussing the impact of Harvey Milk, hosted by Facing History and Ourselves.

During the Q&A, the recent SF Pride controversy around Bradley Manning's nomination and subsequent removal from the grand marshal list was brought up. Nicoletta diplomatically supported SF Pride, the representation of Manning in the movement, and as the process of debating and disagreeing with each other.

Replying to a question about what he thought about the controversy, Nicoletta answered: "And you know I love Pride ... and I've worked intimately with Pride ... So the discourse is heartbreaking but I think Stuart Milk so eloquently always says that our differences are our strengths and we are going to have fights and we should fight ... We'll figure it out, it's a complex issue and I think by giving that spokesperson for Bradley Manning a place to talk about those issues we're doing the right thing. Just like in Harvey Milk's Day ... under the pressures from the rest of the world when Anita Bryant challenged us at the ballot box and John Briggs challenged us at the ballot box, there was a lot of scrambling to be something other than what we are. To have our arguments in public, I think that's a healthy thing and we will figure it out."

Dan Nicoletta's photography has done much to document Harvey Milk's life as a politician in San Francisco, and both he and Anne Kronenberg, who got her start in politics working with Milk, spoke at length about how they think Milk would have led today had it not been for his assassination.

Meanwhile in current San Francisco LGBT politics, City Supervisor David Campos wrote a strong letter to SF Pride in which he said, "The decision to rescind this honor is unprecedented and the community has every right to be concerned about the consequences of this abrupt, top-down directive. Most importantly, however, is the obligation Pride has to be accountable, transparent and representative to the diverse LGBT community it serves. As an organization which receives City funding, Pride has a responsibility to operate with transparency and accountability, and to allow for timely appropriate discussions with the community as needed. The failure of Pride leadership to do so in this circumstance is contrary to this responsibility."

"Controversy is not a new phenomenon to Pride festivities, nor is it a valid reason for Pride not to fulfill its responsibilities to the broader LGBT community. The recent statement made by Pride that the discussion on this matter is “closed” is disturbing, and may serve to further divide the community and foster long-lasting resentments," the statement said.

This Tuesday, activists also held a "mock Pride board meeting" with a row of empty chairs to represent the absence of SF Pride in the discussion.

Whether or not SF Pride takes the time to respond to the community outcry or Supervisor Campos, the vigorous debate is nothing new in LGBT politics, though it certainly seems to have become reinvigorated thanks to the Manning nomination.