Say NO to military recruiters at PRIDE!

by Queer Strike San Francisco, 19 November 2013



Dear Friends,

We are writing to invite you to a community meeting sponsored by SF Pride to discuss the presence of military recruiters at Pride this year. The meeting is on: Tuesday November 19th, 7pm-10pm (doors open at 6:30) at the MCC church, 150 Eureka St in the Castro.   


As queer mothers and other caregivers who are against war and poverty, we were shocked and outraged that military recruiters had a booth at Pride.  We were delighted when a rush of protesters from the Manning contingent surrounded the booth and forced it to shut down. The discussion of why military recruiters were invited has continued at Pride meetings until now.  It is urgent that anyone who is opposed to the presence of military recruiters at Pride come and speak out at this community meeting.

This controversy followed in the wake of a two-month battle with the SF Pride Board about Chelsea Manning, our queer whistle-blower hero, who was nominated to be SF Pride’s Grand Marshal. The Board overrode all their policies and procedures in order to prevent Chelsea from receiving her deserved honor.


In response, the LGBTQ community exploded in anger against this injustice and the torture and homophobic abuse Chelsea had faced in military prison.  A coalition, known as Grand Marshal, Not Court Martial held protests, lobbied those in power to take action against the Board and got unprecedented media coverage in SF and worldwide. In the end the Manning contingent was the largest non-corporate contingent in the parade.

At the same time, the reality of LGBTQ people’s lives burst the bubble of happily married, affluent gay professionals and so-called “equal rights”. Far from the pink lifestyle seen on TV shows, the facts about LGBTQ life for the majority of us – those of us surviving on welfare and low wages, elders sunk in poverty, the suicides among young and old, the homelessness of queer veterans and youth, all started to pour out. 

Young queers (including queer youth of color and immigrant people) are particularly vulnerable to the “poverty draft” -- a target for military recruiters who offer financial incentives, an offer young people have trouble refusing out of need. In spite of what those of us who are mothers tell our children about war, the economic crisis means our kids have few options - prison or the military.  Many of us struggle to pay the rent, let alone pay for the costs of a decent education for our kids.


Since President Obama repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,“ lesbians and gays now have the ”equal right” to participate in illegal wars and use drones against civilians.  When we tell the truth, like Chelsea Manning did, we face years in prison, severe homophobia, solitary confinement and other torture.  The community meeting is our opportunity to say ”no’ to this ”equality”.   After a strong campaign to elect a new slate and challenge a rogue Board who had no accountability to anyone, community organizing won seats on the SF Pride Board.  This is the background of why the discussion on military recruiters is happening at all.


We look forward to seeing you – and hearing you – at the meeting!    


Free Chelsea Manning!
Invest in Caring Not Killing,


Queer Strike

For more info contact: 415 626-4114.