Recently on the site of Occupy Baltimore, it asked people to join the Baltimore pride march, demanding that Chelsea Manning be freed. However, I smell something sinister about this march, which I thoroughly investigated.
Recently, I published an article about the corporate corruption of the mainstream gay organizations or Gay Inc. on Nation of Change. I wrote in part that
“The sponsorships of Gay Inc. give a further insight. The banksters who helped plunge the world economy into economic crisis sponsored a number of organizations including the HRC, NGLTF, GLAD, PFLAG, NGLCC, Out and Equal, GLSEN, and GLAAD. As for the companies that are part of the Center for Copyright Information that devised the authoritarian copyright alert system which is commonly called “Six Strikes,” they back Equality Forum, Out and Equal, NGLTF, and GLAAD. There are many other egregious corporate sponsors of the NGLTF, HRC, GLAD, PFLAG, Equality Forum, Family Equality Council, NGLCC, Out and Equal (has 55 sponsors!), GLSEN, and GLAAD…Some might say that this is no different from any other public interest group in America, but Gay Inc. is uniquely corrupted by the business community. How do these groups pay back their sponsors? It differs from group to group. The NGLTF…backed the healthcare “reform” bill while the HRC’s ‘corporate equality index’…gave the highest ratings possible to some of those who sponsored them!…NGLCC is…making an effort to make corporate America LGBTQ “certified”… The corporate leeches must be thrown away and LGBTQ and allies must stand next to each other and push for full liberation not simply policies that promote assimilation like gay marriage and ENDA.”
This relates to the corporate sponsorship of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade which resulted in the President of the march’s organizing committee declaring that Bradley Manning would not be the Grand Marshal.
I looked into the sponsorship of the Baltimore Gay Pride parade. What did I find? Similar corporate sponsors to the SF Pride Parade, companies like Bank of America & Verizon backed the parade in Baltimore. Other sponsors included BGE, Kaiser Permanente, Constellation Energy, M&T Bank, & SunTrust among many others.* Maybe this is why the parade’s website has a whole webpage promoting corporate partnerships*, saying that companies that sponsor the march will “enjoy marketing to over 5,000 individuals on our mailing list, 6,000 email subscribers, 30,000 Baltimore Pride attendees, and thousands of LGBTQ Marylanders who read Gay Life magazine (Baltimore’s largest LGBTQ publication).” They also have a “partnership packet” to lure corporate sponsors in. Even, the corporate-corrupted Mayor Stephanie Failings-Blake sent in a letter of congrats. The description of the parade on the homepage (also here) gave an idea of the corruption noted that:
“Baltimore Pride has celebrated the diversity of our community in Maryland and throughout the Mid-Atlantic for more than 35 years. Attended annually by an estimated 30,000 people, Baltimore Pride is recognized not only as the premier LGBTQ event in Maryland, but also one of the largest festivals in Baltimore City. The Parade and Block Party are held in Mount Vernon, one of the most historic areas of the city and one of the centers of LGBTQ life in Baltimore. The Festival takes place in a lakeside setting in beautiful Druid Hill Park, which provides a pleasant and casual environment for the festivities of the day. The origins of Baltimore Pride date back to 1975. In the decades since, Baltimore Pride has grown to become Maryland’s largest LGBTQ visibility event, providing an opportunity for the greater Maryland community to experience and learn more about the LGBTQ community through a weekend of wonderful events and exhibitions.”
This is different than the Chesapeake Pride festival which didn’t have corporate sponsors to the magitude of the Baltimore Pride Parade:
Just looking at the definition of gay pride via wikipedia sounds nice, a
“positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to promote their self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance.” However, as the Baltimore Pride Parade and many others show, they are too commercialized resulting in an alternative: Gay Shame. Wikipedia defines this as a:
“A radical movement within the LGBT community, opposes the assimilation of LGBT people into mainstream, heteronormative society, the commodification of non-heterosexual identity and culture, and in particular the (over)commercialization of pride events.”
– http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_pride, see section titled “opposition”
“A movement from within the LGBT and queer communities described as a radical alternative to gay mainstreaming and directly posits an alternative view of traditional “gay pride” events and activities which have become increasingly commercialized with corporate sponsors and “safer” agendas to avoid offending supporters and sponsors. the Gay Shame movement has grown to embrace radical expression, counter-culture ideologies and avant-garde arts and artists.”
This sounds like the words of accomodation, rather than liberation. I can bet you that every “gay pride” parade is similarly stacked with corporate sponsors. This is no surprise considering the corporate sponsors want more consumers but not liberation that seriously challenges the powers that be. In the end, remember to be critical of any gay group or pride parade sponsored by multinationals which promote conformity and assimilation.
As I looked through my email I received the news that Bradley Manning is Chelsea Manning so I’m changing the words “Bradley” to Chelsea in this article. Democracy Now! explained it:
“In breaking news, defense attorney David Coombs has shared a statement announcing Bradley Manning’s gender transition to female and name change to Chelsea Manning. “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,” Manning says. “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.” Coombs said Manning had not wanted his sexual identity issues to become public, but they did after his arrest in 2010…She has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking more than 700,000 files and videos to WikiLeaks. She will serve that time at Fort Leavenworth. Under current guidelines, Chelsea Manning could be released on parole in about seven years.”
Rolling Stone Magazine added to this in an article about the subject:
“One day after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for the largest leak of classified documents in U.S. history, the Army private the world knows as Bradley Manning issued a statement about who she really is. “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female,” Manning wrote in a statement read on the Today show. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility).” The letter is signed Chelsea E. Manning, and thanks supporters for raising awareness of her case. Manning is likely to serve her time at Fort Leavenworth, which doesn’t offer hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery to prisoners, as reported by Courthouse News. David Coombs, Manning’s lawyer, was not sure if Fort Leavenworth would offer Manning hormone therapy, though he said on Today that he was “hoping” the prison “would do the right thing.” “If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so,” Coombs said, according to the Today website. It’s not clear whether Manning will be imprisoned in the male or female population. In U.S. prisons in general, transgender inmates are typically classified by their officially assigned gender, rather than the gender with which they identify. After the guilty verdict, Manning’s attorney introduced a piece of evidence that included a photo of Manning in a wig and make-up attached to an email with the subject line: “My problem.” According to the email, Manning had hoped that joining the military would resolve her struggles with gender dysphoria – a pattern that is apparently not uncommon among transgender troops. The military still discriminates based on transgender identity, and soldiers or sailors who are open about who they are risk discharge under medical pretexts. Manning was convicted of leaking 700,000 war logs and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. The 20 guilty counts included violations of the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, though not the most serious charge, aiding the enemy – a charge tantamount to treason. The prosecution in the case had asked Judge Denise Lind to sentence Manning to at least 60 years, saying, “There is value in deterrence.” The defense had asked for a sentence no greater than 25 years. Though Manning will be eligible for parole after serving a third of her sentence, some found the 35-year sentence disproportionate when compared to the sentences given to other soldiers convicted of more serious crimes such as murder. “US soldier John Hatley, convicted of *premeditated murder* for shooting Iraqi detainees point blank in the back of the head, received 40 years,” tweeted Sarah Knuckey, former advisor to the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings. Knuckey added, “U.S. Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, who pled guilty to murdering unarmed Afghan civilians, got 24 years.””
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