Bradley Manning Gay Pride: Supporters Show Love For WikiLeaks Whistleblower

As much as San Francisco Pride's Board would've probably liked to have Bradley Manning and his supporters absent from any Pride 2013 recap, it is noteworthy to say, after two months of controversy, they were the largest non-corporate contingent — with over 2000 folks — and they even danced to Michael Jackson in a flash mob that delighted the crowds.

The largest corporate group was from Google; however, Facebook earned more attention as Mark Zuckerberg attended with the Facebook delegation riding on a fake trolley car. 

The Bradley Manning contingent was prominently attended by 82 year-old Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. Ellsberg celebrated with his wife riding in a truck labeled "Bradley Manning Grand Marshal." Within the Manning contingent there was also a flash mob dance, ACT up Representatives, and many Veterans against the war.

Also in attendance was Pride's legal counsel, Brooke Oliver, who resigned after 15 years because of the Pride Board's handling of the Manning debacle. At the SF Pride Media Party on Thursday, unnamed guests fell on both sides with past board members saying, "this issue just needs to die" and others who blamed Lisa Williams for taking a stance that wasn't reflective of all of SF Pride's members.

In a quiet but significant shift from previous years, for the first time, SF Pride allowed a military recruitment booth as an exhibitor at the Parade. When asked to confirm that prior to the event, Lisa Williams replied with a noncommittal, "yes I think that's true." Approximately 100 protesters proceeded from marching in the parade to the booth, effectively shutting it down. While the military has become much more gay and lesbian friendly with the repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, as well as with the repeal of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, they are not yet Trans-Inclusive and the epidemic of sexual assaults make Pride's support of their recruiting presence questionable.

Thankfully for Pride organizers, due to the celebratory mood post-Prop 8, things that would have once been glaring just passed unmentioned. At the center of this year's pride inside City Hall, marriages continued with 236 licenses issued Sunday alone for couples who waited 2-3 hours. Since the stay was lifted on Friday, in San Francisco alone there have been 563 marriage licenses issued. Many parade watchers cheered for Kamela Harris and the folks from the ACLU early in the parade — but didn't wait the over 5 hours to see the end of the parade before heading to Civic Center Plaza. As such, for some of the over a million estimated pride attendees, the protests were unseen.

However, riding Caltrain in the evening it seemed many lesbian, gay and transgender passengers complained Pride seemed more corporate and less fun this year. With straight acceptance increasing they commented about large numbers of straight boys coming specifically to see scantily clad women, making a traditionally queer event feel less safe. Other patrons enjoyed the event more and large numbers of drunken individuals covered in rainbow glitter crowded both BART and Caltrains at the end of the evening.