Bradley Manning, SF Pride, and intersectionality

I was surprised, then unsurprised, when Bradley Manning was first invited to be a Grand Marshal at SF pride, then had that invitation rescinded.  If you don’t know, Bradley Manning has become a cause celebre for those who champion full transparency in government.

I’m not going to go into speculation about what happened at SF Pride and why – there are others who will do that. What struck me about this brou-ha-ha is how the core of the LGBT movement establishment (SF Pride is as good a representative of it as any) has completely lost the thread of intersectionality.

Intersectionality is the idea that you can’t just look at one kind of oppression in the absence of others. You can’t just focus on homophobia, and not understand the ways in which other kinds of oppressive forces intersect. You can’t just care about ending your own oppression while you ignore the oppression of others, whoever, and wherever they are.

Bradley is currently in military prison, awaiting trial. He has plead guilty to some of the charges against him, and confessed to leaking documents. By exposing the documents he did, he helped to lay bare the utter brutality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The thing that struck me the most about the whole situation is not that Bradley Manning was uninvited. It was how he was uninvited. There was this completely unnecessary part of the statement:

…Bradley Manning is facing the military justice system of this country. We all await the decision of that system. However, until that time, even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform — and countless others, military and civilian alike — will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride. It is, and would be, an insult to every one, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country…

They are bending over backwards to make sure that it was clear that under no circumstances was there to be any suggestion that SF Pride did not support the military completely and wholeheartedly. I can understand that the nomination of Bradley Manning put the board of SF Pride in a difficult situation. And, I can imagine they were thinking: let’s not let anything serious get in the way of a good party. 

But this statement sweeps away every single doubt in my mind that might have somehow miraculously (and, frankly, uselessly) crept in after years of focus on gay marriage and gays in the military. There is no intersectionality to be found here, anymore, at all. Time to look elsewhere.

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