Radical LGBTQ Activists Hop Barriers to Protest the Commercialization of San Francisco’s Pride Parade – #OccuPride
While an estimated 1 million spectators gathered around Market street in San Francisco on Sunday morning to catch a glimpse at corporate sponsored “Pride” floats, a group of radical LGBTQ activists gathered and prepared to fight back against the commercialization of the violent struggle of the LGBTQ community.
Just thirty minutes before the main parade was scheduled to depart the Embarcadero end of Market street, 100-150 occupy activists met one block from the starting point to discuss tactics and to connect participants to a private text alert system to share information on the go. Moments before the parade hit the street, the group of OccuPride activists made their way through the crowd and opened the street barriers with the help of a parade staff member. At 10:30am, all at once the activists spilled out into Market street carrying anti-corporate signs that promoted the LGBTQ community.
After a few blocks, the parade staff formed a line across the road as to direct the unregistered marchers off the road and into a side street. OccuPride marchers quickly regrouped and prepared for their next target: Wells Fargo.
The activists moved down one block on Market street and patiently waited for the bank’s float to pass by. As soon as the giant group of purple shirt wearing bankers and their co-conspirators came into view, 40-50 radical LGBTQ activists hopped the barriers and quickly began unraveling two large banners that read, “Wells Fargo, Stop The Evictions” and “Banks: No Pride in Foreclosures,” and used those banners to block the spectators’ view of the bank’s float on both sides of the street. Other banners included support for AIDS research, Bradley Manning, and Cece McDonald, an African-American trans woman who was sentenced to 41 months in prison for defending herself against violent transphobic racists.
Of course I was one of these unregistered guests and was able to get up close and personal with some of the Wells Fargo staff. They were displeased, to say the least, that a group of radical LGBTQ community members jumped over the street barriers to basically say “fuck you” not only for all the forclosures on people’s homes, but for using the LGBTQ community’s struggle for social freedom as a marketing tool. Many of the marching bankers shouted at me to “get a job,” and to “pay my bills on time to avoid losing my home.” Others shouted incoherently while jumping up and down in a failed effort to energize the crowd.
Though there were a few spectators who booed us and yelled at us to leave, the vast majority of them supported our message of true equality. Whether it was cheering, high-fiving, or joining in on the chants, it was clear who’s side the people were on. Even at least one judge gave us a respectful standing ovation and awarded an OccuPride organizer with a ribbon.
After the march, many regrouped on the corner of Turk and Taylor, the site of the Compton cafeteria transgender riot in 1966. To honor the violent struggle of the transgender community, activists spoke out and told their stories in front of the old Compton site. A transgender woman who wished to remain nameless left us with words we already knew to be true but they served as a great reminder to the struggle of the LGBTQ community: “My work will not be done until I die or the hate stops.”
Photos from #OccuPride San Francisco 2012:
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