San Francisco Pride Announces Grand Marshals
Transgender people, a longtime queer housing activist, and a lesbian global rights advocate are the grand marshals announced so far for this year’s San Francisco LGBT Pride parade and celebration.
Jewlyes Gutierrez, a transgender teen who gained attention after defending herself in a schoolyard fight, and organizers of the local Trans March, which annually draws thousands of trans people and supporters, have been selected by public vote to be honored at this year’s festivities, which are set for June 28-29. Pride organizers announced those honorees Monday, April 7. The rest were announced Tuesday.
Other grand marshals include housing activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca, who was selected by Pride membership. The board chose transgender activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy and global rights activist Melanie Nathan as grand marshals, and poet Judy Grahn as the lifetime achievement grand marshal. Neither Griffin-Gracy nor Grahn had formally accepted their selections as of Wednesday morning, according to Pride board Vice President Marsha Levine.
Nathan said earlier this year when she was nominated, "I hope that it will help bring more attention to the international LGBT issues our community should be more cognizant of, especially in Africa."
The public also selected anti-gay pastor Scott Lively to receive the pink brick "award." Each year, the pink brick goes to a group or individual who’s hurt the LGBT community. Lively, the anti-gay U.S. activist who was a leader behind Uganda’s Kill the Gays bill, beat out nominees including Russian President Vladimir Putin, who’s been cracking down on homosexuality in his country, for the Pride distinction.
Levine said that almost 6,900 people placed their votes from late February to mid-March, which she estimated is more than double the number of people who voted last year.
In the non-voting category, Pride officials announced that TV personality Ross Mathews would be among the celebrity grand marshals at this year’s Pride.
Individual Grand Marshals
In January, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office charged Gutierrez, who was then a 16-year-old sophomore at Hercules Middle/High School in the East Bay, with battery after an investigation into a November fight. Three girls who allegedly attacked Gutierrez, meanwhile, weren’t charged.
Gutierrez’s public defender, Kaylie Simon, said the teen had been "harassed and tormented ... due to her gender identity," and the charge against her drew widespread criticism.
At Simon’s request, a juvenile judge eventually ordered Gutierrez to enter a restorative justice program, where the goal is to achieve reconciliation with the parties involved.
In an email to the Bay Area Reporter, Pride board President Gary Virginia said, "I think the public resonated" with Gutierrez’s "plight."
"Many LGBTQ people face similar discrimination when coming out," he said.
In a statement provided to the B.A.R., Gutierrez said she’s "honored" by the recognition.
"I didn’t even know anything about SF Pride, and I am shocked that something positive could come out of my situation being bullied in school, as no one should have to go to school in fear for their safety," she said. "Having been selected has given me hope for the future. Thank you for all those who voted for me and I am very grateful and humble for all your support."
Avicolli Mecca told the B.A.R. he was honored at being chosen among "such a great group of grand marshals."
"I am inviting everyone to join my contingent, which will have as its theme, ’Housing is a Queer Issue,’" he added.