I wrote my first article for the prestigious Bay Area Reporter. SF Pride announced their slate of nominees for Individual Grand Marshal. After reading my article, go to sfpride.org/vote and vote on these 10 fabulous activists!
10 Noms for Pride Grand Marshal
Ten Bay Area LGBTQ community leaders have been nominated for grand marshal of this year’s San Francisco Pride parade.
Public voting started this week online, and continues until March 2. The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee board is also expected to announce polling stations where people can fill out ballots in person.
In addition to the community grand marshal nominees, the board announced nominees for organization grand marshal and the pink brick, a faux award that is given to a person or group that has caused significant harm to the LGBT community.
Held during the weekend of June 27-28, Pride will celebrate its 45th annual parade. This year’s theme is “Equality Without Exception.”
Individual nominees are: Tita Aida, Brian Basinger, Patrick Carney, Belo Cipriani, Masen Davis, Judy Dlugacz, Alicia Garza, Mary Midgett, Caitlin Ryan, Ph.D., and Miko Thomas.
“It’s a great honor to be nominated with my fellow nominees,” said Carney, a gay man. “The recognition will help spread the word out about the pink triangle.”
Carney, 59, is best known for organizing the annual installation of the pink triangle on Twin Peaks for Pride. The installation and accompanying commemoration ceremony is meant to educate people about the history of the pink triangle, which was originally used by the Nazis in concentration camps to identify and shame gays. It now represents a symbol of pride.
Like Carney, Cipriani, a freelance journalist who writes the Seeing in the Dark column for the Bay Area Reporter , is humbled to be nominated.
“It’s very humbling. I have a physical disability and it’s rare for us to get a spotlight,” Cipriani, 34, said. “It means a lot to me and shows that times are changing. I’m the first blind man to be nominated.”
Cipriani, a gay man, is an award-winning author for his books, Blind: A Memoir and Midday Dreams. As a disabilities advocate, he was the keynote speaker for the 2011 Americans with Disabilities Act celebration in San Francisco as well as for the 2012 queer conference at Skyline College.
Among the nominees, Davis and Aida are noted advocates for the transgender community.
Davis, a trans man, propelled the Transgender Law Center to become the nation’s largest transgender advocacy organization during his tenure as executive director from 2007 until stepping down February 1. Davis also had a vital role in ensuring that transgender students have access to facilities and activities that match their gender identity as he was an integral part of the coalition that helped pass California’s School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266). He was previously nominated in 2012.
“It is a great feeling to be nominated with so many amazing activists and it’s incredible to be one of them,” said Davis, 43. “I have to admit that a lot of work still needs to be done. But it’s exciting to create a buzz around Pride regardless who wins.”
Aida, a trans woman, who is a former Pride board member, has contributed to the LGBTQI community with her efforts in grassroots activism and community advocacy by spearheading several initiatives and programs in the prevention of HIV/AIDS. She currently manages the Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center’s Trans Thrive Program, which is a drop-in center dedicated to helping San Francisco’s transgender community.
“I strongly believe that a vital part of this whole grand marshal voting experience is to get the community involved. Educate. Recognize the work that has been done to better LGBTQI lives,” said Aida, who joked that she’s “over 30.” “Encourage a sense of empowerment and foster leadership. The folks who are nominated can set as examples to the young generation who will hopefully continue the amazing work that has been planted to achieve equality for the LGBTQI community.”
Happy to be nominated among well-respected activists, Basinger, who was previously nominated last year, is a gay man who’s director of the AIDS Housing Alliance/SF, is a leading voice for the LGBTI and HIV communities facing poverty and homelessness.
“Tita Aida has been a friend and a huge supporter and I’m a fan of those nominated,” Basinger, 48, said. “If the nomination helps my work with the homeless, then I’m 100 percent happy that I’m being recognized.”
Midgett, Dlugacz, and Ryan are also nominees.
Midgett, 78, founded the Bay Area Black Lesbians and Gays and is an active speaker for Openhouse, an organization advocating for LGBT seniors. She also co-founded the NIA Collective in 1986, with which she is most closely associated.
Dlugacz, who’s in her 60s, co-founded Olivia Records and Olivia Travel, which offers vacations catering to lesbians. Dlugacz is also one of the founding partners of the USAID LGBT Global Development Partnership.
Ryan, a lesbian who said she is a senior, is a clinical social worker who has researched and worked on LGBT health and mental health issues for 40 years. She is director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University.
“I’m very honored to have been nominated for community grand marshal,” Ryan told the Bay Area Reporter Wednesday. “My work with LGBTQ children, youth and families keeps me running.”
Rounding out the community grand marshal nominees are Thomas and Garza.
Thomas, whose age wasn’t available, is a two-spirit writer and performance artist who is known more by his drag name, Landa Lakes, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the use of Native images as mascots. He has served on the board of the now-shuttered Native American AIDS Project as well as a board member of the Grand Ducal Council.
Garza, who identifies as queer, co-founded #BlackLivesMatter and serves as the special projects director at the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
“[My nomination] is a huge surprise and a great honor,” said Garza, 34. “SF Pride can represent the diversity of the community and support broad-based movements of black communities all over the world.”
The slate of nominees for organization grand marshal were also announced. They are the AIDS Legal Referral Panel, Magnet SF, Openhouse, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Transgender Law Center.
For this year’s pink brick, the nominees are the American Family Association, Pacific Justice Institute, and the World Congress of Families.
To vote online, visit http://www.sfpride.org/vote.