SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
LGBTQ OccuPride resists corporate sponsors
Published Jun 27, 2012 9:22 PM
WW photo: Judy Greenspan
The foremothers and forefathers of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer movements would have been proud of the series of protests and actions held in the Bay Area the last weekend in June. At a time when commercialization and corporate buyouts of LGBTQ heritage are rampant, queer activists from many organizations, including Occupy SF and Oakland, Pride at Work, QUIT (Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism), ACT-UP, Workers World Party and others, held a dynamic “OccuPride 2012.”
As the TransMarch stepped off the night of June 22, posters and banners demanding “Free CeCe McDonald” and “Stop attacks on trans people” were highly visible. The TransMarch demanded justice for the most oppressed of the transgender communities — Black and Brown trans people, immigrants and the homeless. More than 2,000 marched through the streets of San Francisco demanding “Hey hey, ho, ho, transphobia’s got to go!”
Activists were particularly concerned about the case of CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman in Minneapolis who was attacked by a group of bigots and allegedly killed one of her attackers in self-defense. McDonald was recently sentenced to 41 months in prison for surviving this vicious assault.
On the night of June 23, OccuPride activists — led by QUIT and Lesbians and Gays Against Intervention — disrupted the beginning of an Israeli film shown at the LGBT Film Festival in San Francisco. The demonstrators stood up in the front of the theater and presented Frameline, the festival’s organizer, with a “pink-washing” award for not honoring the international boycott of Israel. The boycott aimed to protest Israel’s occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.
Many people in the theater applauded the anti-Zionist activists for making this statement against the film. The demonstration then moved outside to the front of the theater where the annual Dyke March was underway. Many women in the march expressed solidarity with this protest. Later that evening, members of the newly formed ACT-UP did a banner drop over the front of another theater showing a Frameline film.
Opposing Pride’s commercialization
OccuPride formed in opposition to the gross commercialization of LGBTQ Pride in the Bay Area. Activists were particularly incensed by the highlighted presence of corporate institutions like Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Trans activists were angered by the inclusion of Kaiser Permanente, an HMO that does not provide surgical services for transpeople.
On June 24, at Sunday’s main event — the LGBTQ march that attracts over 1 million people — OccuPride 2012 brought the strong message of “Community Not Commodity” to the parade. Activists worked hard to plan how to get into the beginning of the parade, which is made difficult by the placement of barricades between the participants and the spectators.
OccuPride successfully inserted itself early into the event and made a strong statement about what this movement is really about. Chants were heard about Stonewall being a rebellion, not a shopping opportunity. Activists also raised the issue of “Free CeCe McDonald!” which was warmly received by supporters on the sidelines.
OccuPride activists also joined with Pride at Work, which inserted itself in the parade right before the Kaiser Permanente float and contingent. This group of activists sat down during the march to make a statement about Kaiser’s discrimination against trans people. Another group from OccuPride joined the parade near the Wells Fargo contingent and made a similar protest during the march. The bank is well known for its unjust lending and foreclosure policies against poor and working people.
The spirit of the Stonewall and the Compton Cafeteria rebellions was alive and well this Pride weekend in the Bay Area. OccuPride hopes to continue its resistance to discrimination, oppression and commercialization beyond LGBTQ Pride. (bayoccupride.com)
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