“He is a traitor,” posted gay military activist Sean Sala on FaceBook upon learning that Bradley Manning, currently serving three years in prison for military espionage, has selected as a Grand Marshal for San Francisco’s 2013 Pride Parade.
As noted in a statement from the Bradley Manning Support Network, Manning, who has admitted to leaking nearly 700,000 confidential government documents to WikiLeaks, will not be able to attend the ceremonies. He will be represented, instead, by Pentagon Papers’ whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. Even still, many LGBT activists are furious about the message being sent by the San Francisco Pride organizers’ decision.
The announcement’s controversy illuminates the ongoing division within the LGBT military community over Manning, who identifies as gay and trans. He does have his fair share of supporters. In 2012, in support of the Bradley Manning Pride Contingent, LGBT activist Peter Tatchell argued, “When [Manning] discovered human rights violations by the US armed forces and duplicity by the US government, he was shocked and distressed… believing it was betraying the US ideals of democracy and human rights.”
And Dan Choi, another noted LGBT military activist, said of Manning, in 2012, “As we move forward as a country, we need truth in order to gain justice, you can’t have justice without the whole truth…So what he did as a gay American, as a gay soldier, he stood for integrity, I am proud of him.”
But Choi and Tatchell’s take on Manning as a hero, however, is by no means universal.
OutServe-SLDN’s co-chairman Josh Seefried, tweeted about his frustration with the announcement.
Absolutely ashamed @SFPride would allow this to happen http://t.co/peO0QCH1iy complete insult to us currently serving #LGBT #pride— Josh Seefried
@SFPride’s decision to choose Bradley Manning as Grand Marshall is a direct insult to the thousands of LGBT servicemembers and vets. #nohero— Josh Seefried
Seefried, who spoke with BuzzFeed via email, elaborated on his comments, adding: “Bradley Manning’s actions were a disgrace. We just won the repeal of DADT, by the LGBT community ‘honoring’ him it sends a signal to the broader community, including the whole military community, that we think he is some sort of hero.”
This sentiment has been echoed by others as well.
If @SFPride wanted to draw attention to DADT, how about Gen. Tammy Smith, the first openly-gay U.S. flag office, who came out last year?— Gabriel Malor
Whatever you may think of Bradley Manning’s treatment in captivity, he still remains on trial for treason. Idiotic move by @SFPride— Justin Snow