Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"I am Bradley Manning"

Yesterday's demonstration for reinstating Bradley Manning as an Honorary Marshal of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade in June 2013 was very inspiring.  Just when I had feared that the future of gay liberation was to be its drowning in shallow waters, I discovered that there is a new generation arguing with good sense and eloquence that gay people do not have to fight strictly for equal rights for gay people (as so many of those struggles are being won) but will continue the community identity created by Gay Liberation by expanding the struggle (always implicit in the Gay Liberation movement) to be involved in all matters of equality and justice for anyone, not just gay people.  
As one speaker said, the gay community is part of the larger community, and certainly woven into it more and more.  I thought I would be dead before that change happened so I am glad to see that it has emerged without my awareness, partly, as my friend Fred Goldsmith notes, because younger generations are ready for that and demanding that change. 
Of course, Daniel Ellsberg was one of the speakers, as he is always a strong supporter of his fellow whistleblower, proclaiming Bradley Manning his "hero."  He intends to be in the Pride Parade (although he too is "banished" from the annual Gay Pride parade at least in the role he was to play, as Manning's representative as Manning is an Army captive).  

An active participant in Gay Liberation since before Stonewall (when one might have said, as many did, mockingly, that we were silly to think liberation could happen in that century, or even in a number of centuries), it was wonderful yesterday to feel as if I were back in a group with that kind of spirit -- I love progressive visionaries!  The charge of energy yesterday, after the ugly attitude that incited it, was beautiful, almost lighthearted, and anything but downtrodden and discouraged.  We must hope that a few backward executives in the Gay Pride organization will awaken and join Gay Liberation, changing their attitudes and their decision, and will be true to human liberation.
Some have asked what Bradley's role as a whistleblower against U.S. atrocities has to do with his being gay or if there is any connection with the gay liberation movement.  I have many answers to that, but one was demonstrated yesterday -- his is the same spirit that gave birth to a Gay Liberation movement, a refusal to accept, on anyone's behalf, injustice and inequality (often enforced with physical abuse or death).  

With what Manning is facing, their attitude is equivalent to failing to warn Harvey Milk that Dan White was crawling through a basement window of City Hall with a gun in order to kill him.
I will don the language of the gay stereotype just long enough to say:  If nothing else, torture and other atrocities, show an appalling lack of taste that is simply intolerable if you are the least bit sensitive or empathetic. 

 But there seem to be more and more people who, in spite of heterosexual tendencies, are apt to say, "I'm gay too."  And currently many who  say, with demonstrations, "I am Bradley Manning."