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WE WIN! – MUMC Reverses Decision, Trans Flag To Be Flown On Transgender Day of Remembrance in the Castro

After receiving over 1000 signatures and immense pressure from the LGBT Community not only in San Francisco but across the nation for MUMC (Merchants of Upper Market and Castro) fly the Transgender Flag at Harvey Milk Plaza on the Transgender Day of Remembrance after originally denying the request.  Trans leader Veronika Fimbres has received word that MUMC has reversed their original decision and the Transgender Flag will now be allowed to be raised and flown on November 20th.

MUMC has also stated that it will be organizing a committee to reassess their flag policy after the first of the year.

After a “closed-door” meeting with Theresa Sparks of the Human Rights Commission.  Terry Bennett, President of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro issued the following statement:

The Board of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro has thoughtfully and thoroughly considered the desire of the Transgender Community to have the Transgender Flag flown on November 20, 2012 in recognition of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The request we originally received was to fly the Transgender Flag in a lowered position. Due to real and serious safety concerns, the request was denied on the basis of the lowered position request. Although, as of today we have not received a revised request, we continued the conversation to consider flying the Transgender Flag at full height. This has been a difficult conversation and emotions run very high in both directions on the issue.

Gilbert Baker, the originator of the Rainbow Flag, created the flag pole with the intent of an oversized 20ft by 30ft Rainbow Flag that would be flown 365 days a year at full mast as a sign of unity and hope for the entire LGBT community. At some point after this, a decision was made to fly the Leather Flag in the week leading up to Folsom Street Fair. In 2001, the originator of the rainbow flag was no longer able to care for the flag, and our beautiful symbol of hope and unity was flying torn and tattered on the flag pole. It was at this time that MUMC stepped forward and offered to be stewards of the flag. The city with Gilbert Baker’s blessing granted MUMC the stewardship. The leaders of MUMC over the last 11 years have worked diligently to make sure we have a beautiful, bright, vibrant flag flying over our community. MUMC has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over this period of time, to insure and maintain the flag pole. In order to keep a bright, colorful flag flying, the flag must be changed out approximately every two months. We have worked to create a partnership with the Castro Street Faire organizers who use some of the gate donations every year to buy 3 to 4 replacement flags. A couple of years ago, when the Bear community was looking at celebrating their last Bear Rendezvous weekend a decision was made to fly the Bear Flag as a way of marking the end of an era. As it turned out the Bear Community revived the Bear Rendezvous in an abbreviated capacity, and as things go you do it once it becomes tradition, it has flown President’s Day weekend the last couple of years. Over the last two years the MUMC Board has been overwhelmed with requests to alter or change the flag. These requests have regularly been accompanied by a great deal of personal attacks, blatant bullying and harassment. Due to these attacks it has made it very difficult to consider any requests. After the first of the year, MUMC will organize a committee to reassess our policy.

During this process of consideration I have consulted with and looked for guidance from several people in the community. I would personally like to thank Supervisor Scott Wiener, Daniel Redman and Don Romesburg for their respectful, heartfelt and open dialogs with me. These respectful dialogs have made it possible for the MUMC Board to make the decision to fly the Transgender Flag on November 20th in recognition of Transgender Day of Remembrance. It will be the responsibility of the Transgender community to provide a 20ft by 30ft Transgender Flag that will fly at full mast on Tuesday, November 20, 2012. We would ask that the community coordinate the flying of the flag with a commemoration that can bring the much needed focus, recognition and pride to the transgender community.

Respectfully Yours,

Terry Asten Bennett – MUMC President,

While this is a win for San Francisco’s LGBT community they still have a multitude of issues with MUMC and their treatment of the community as a whole.

Gay and trans advocates have been demanding transparency for two-years from the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro regarding control of the Milk Plaza rainbow flag and other important issues to no avail and are holding a news conference today at the store owned by MUMC president Terry Bennett.

What: Press Conference

Date: Tuesday, October 16

When: 4 PM

Where: Cliff’s Variety Store, on the public sidewalk Location: 479 Castro Street

The speakers include Veronika Fimbres, trans leader who forced MUMC to raise the Trans Pride flag on Day of Remembrance, Bill Wilson who will address MUMC’s longstanding hostility to public engagement and opacity, and well known San Francisco blogger Michael Petrelis.

Source: Roy McKenzie of Back2Stonewall.com and The San Francisco Biscuit


Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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