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BUSTED! – SF Pride CEO Earl Plante Lies To The Press Over Bradley Manning Debacle

SF Pride Earl Plante

It”s been a bad two weeks for San Francisco’s LGBT Community.

At this week’s San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor David Campos, addressed the ongoing debacle of SF Pride

Campos called Pride’s actions “unprecedented”and added that as an organization receiving city funding they must give members of the public the opportunity to weigh in on the decision, and they must allow for a timely appropriate debate despite the fact that SF Pride has said the matter is closed, without any meaningful discussion from the community

Campos subsequently sent the following letter to the San Francisco Pride Board:

To Executive Director Earl Plante, Board President Lisa Williams and members of the Board of Directors of San Francisco Pride:

I am writing to express my concern over the recent actions of the leadership of Pride in the wake of the controversy surrounding the naming of Private Manning as a Grand Marshall for this year’s parade. The decision to rescind this honor is unprecedented and the community has every right to be concerned about the consequences of this abrupt, top-down directive. Most importantly, however, is the obligation Pride has to be accountable, transparent and representative to the diverse LGBT community it serves. As an organization which receives City funding, Pride has a responsibility to operate with transparency and accountability, and to allow for timely appropriate discussions with the community as needed. The failure of Pride leadership to do so in this circumstance is contrary to this responsibility.

Controversy is not a new phenomenon to Pride festivities, nor is it a valid reason for Pride not to fulfill its responsibilities to the broader LGBT community. The recent statement made by Pride that the discussion on this matter is “closed” is disturbing, and may serve to further divide the community and foster long-lasting resentments.

I urge Pride to hold an open community discussion on the matter of Private Manning’s awarding and rescission as Grand Marshall, and ask that this meeting be held as soon as possible and before the June Pride festivities. We must remember that Pride was born as a tribute to the courage of the LGBT community, and walking away from this discussion is contrary to that legacy.

Sincerely,

Supervisor David Campos

In an interview last night with the Bay Area Reporter , LGBT Pride Celebration Committee CEO Earl Plante stated that the Pride board “agrees in principle” with Campos and is working with the supervisor to secure space for a community meeting in late May or early June, before Pride festivities saying  they are finding it hard to find a place that will hold the expected crowd (Despite the fact that the San Francisco LGBT Center is directly across the street from SF Prides office and can accommodate large groups.)

Plante was also adamant that no corporate sponsors ever contacted them about the inclusion of Manning as a grand marshal and asked that he be withdrawn,  and went on to state that no LGBT military folks pressured SF Pride to withdraw Manning’s honor and calling the  “vile” comments directed at Lisa Williams on various social media sites,  “reprehensible.”

“I, as CEO, will not tolerate Lisa or anyone on our board being in harm’s way,” Plante said. “We can’t have a dialogue with people engaged in violent attacks.”

It was also mentioned that LGBT Pride Celebration Committee led by Plante has also fired a low-level staff member who handled the press releases for the Pride Marshall announcements.  While Plante would not name the staffer, calling it a “personnel matter” it has been learned that SF Pride staff member Joshua Smith who sent the confirmed list of grand marshals out has been indeed let go.

Now when SF PRIDE becomes so big that it has a CEO that makes $200.000 dollars a year of money that is donated to the Pride celebration that the first sign that something is seriously wrong.

Plante has a long employment history of “professional” LGBT advocate and in the Bay Area Reporter article  he speaks about the LGBT community in the authoritarian tone designed to marginalize people who might be upset with the horrendous handling of Bradley Manning situation and to avoid the criticism the that SF Pride so rightfully deserves in this matter.

But most disturbing is the fact that Earl Plante blatantly lies in the article when he says that “no military folks pressured them”

The American Military Partner Association President Stephen Peters called on SF Pride to remove Manning.  Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Seefried, co-chairman of the board of directors of OutServe-SLDN, called San Francisco Pride’s choice of Manning  a “complete insult” to those currently serving in active duty.  And  it is well documented that the Sean Sala the organizer of the 2011 Active Duty Military March in San Diego Pride (the nation’s first-ever pride appearance of uniformed military members)  not only called and told SF Pride to remove Manning but also called for a national boycott of the Pride celebration and started a petition against SF Pride.

Plante also lied about the “vile hate smears” and allegations of “violent attacks,” against SF Pride Board members which he has no evidence to back up, was never reported to authorities or witnessed by others.

If nothing else this proves that Plante is not only unfit for the job which shouldn’t be in existence to begin with but also that he should resign at once.  As should the entire current SF Pride Board who handled this situation so badly and with such blatant disregard that they have tarnished SF Pride and damaged it beyond repair if they stay.

Perhaps its time to remind Earle Plante and the Board of SF Pride that the Pride commemorates STONEWALL which was about community, freedom and courage.

Not lies, corporate image and bullshit.

*Special thanks to Roy McKenzie and The Castro Biscuit

 

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and 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 in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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