PFLAG & Harry Hay

In an historic first, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community of San Francisco have elected the Grand Marshals for the 1999 San Francisco Pride Parade.

The decision was made by the board of directors to have the grand marshals chosen for this year's parade by public vote. This is in keeping with the board's commitment for greater community involvement in the planning of the 1999 Pride event. Nominees were selected by the general public, the Pride Committee's general membership and board of directors. 1,346 people cast their votes at a colorful and festive polling place set-up at the corner of 18th and Castro on April 17 and by mail using ballot forms printed in local papers.

The results of the voting are as follows :

Individual Grand Marshal Category (Top 10) :

Candidate & # of Votes
Harry Hay . . . 295
Jim Mitulski . . . 196
Tamara Ching . . . 134
Steven Cozza . . .120
Rudy Galindo . . . 116
Gary Virginia . . . 100
Tom Ammiano/Juanita Owens/Lawrence Wong . . . 92
Sheila Kuehl . . . 67
Adam Colton . . . 51
Howard Wallace . . . 33

Organization Grand Marshal Category:

Candidate & # of Votes
Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays . . . 309
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence . . . 259
AIDS Emergency Fund . . . 208

At its meeting held last Tuesday night, the Pride Committee confirmed that Harry Hay would be the Individual Grand Marshal and PFLAG would be the Organization Grand Marshal The balance of nominees would be awarded "Honorary Marshal" and will be recognized at the pride event.

Harry Hay was one of the original founders of the Mattachine Society in 1950 and founder of San Francisco's Radical Faeries. Harry also has a long history of labor activism and commitment to developing coalition politics. Harry was the first to articulate the idea that lesbians and gay men were a distinct political and cultural minority. PFLAG work tirelessly educating the general public about the truth and beauty of our relationships and providing support to our Parents and Friends. PFLAG regularly receive one of the biggest cheers from Parade onlookers.

Commenting, Teddy Witherington, Pride Executive Director said :

"Both Harry Hay and PFLAG are popular choices and their selection as Grand Marshals coincides beautifully with this year's theme, Proud Heritage , Powerful Future. The organization was excited by the response from the public and is happy to see its policy of community engagement paying dividends."

Pride President Calvin Gipson said :

"At the public polling place, many people mentioned that it was difficult to choose who to vote for because so many of the nominees are deserving of this honor for their work. Harry Hay is a treasure because his struggle against gay oppression spans over 50 years. He truly has laid the foundation for many of the freedoms that we enjoy today.

Many of us have relied on PFLAG for comfort and advice at our most tender moment of coming out to our family and friends. Our deepest respect is extended to Harry Hay, PFLAG and all grand marshal nominees."

Upon hearing the news of his election, Harry Hay was in reflective mood and said :

"It's been a long road for me since I came down to San Francisco out of the hay making fields of Western Nevada in September 1926 with an old IWW union card. Through this card I met a 25 year old able bodied seaman of many colors who would tell me in the heat of my first embrace that my kind of people were everywhere and waiting for me. It was the loveliest gift any 14 year old pretending to be 21 ever received from his first love. I have found those people in the left of center echelons of society and when I founded the Mattachine Society with four other brothers, we all had Trade Unionist connections, and three of us, including me, were Marxists. As a grassroots activist it is so exciting and wonderful to be selected as Grand Marshal and to be able to push our Radical Faerie processes of socially and politically contributive forms of consensus bonding into the next millennium."

ENDS

For further information please contact Teddy Witherington at (415) 864 3733