SF Pride grappling with who gets to march in this year's parade
SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco Pride is divided over who will be allowed to march in this year's parade.
A dual campaign to ban Google and the Alameda County Sheriff's Department appeared to fall flat with the Pride Board of Directors at their Wednesday night meeting.
The initiatives were passed by a small group of Pride members at a meeting last month, but the 11 member board concluded that vote was not binding, and another was not necessary.
It is the second year in a row, critics have tried to get Google bounced from the celebration.
"All we've asked for is Google to change, and Google has failed to do so," said former Google employee Laurence Berland.
Berland says the main complaint involves Google affiliate YouTube, and its failure to police hateful and homophobic content.
"The content policies on YouTube are exclusionary not inclusionary and affect some of the more marginalized communities, the gay community and the trans community."
Google has been an SF Pride sponsor for more than a decade.
"Their online policies aren't perfect, nobody's perfect, we're not perfect," said SF Pride Executive Director Fred Lopez.
Lopez insists that with any corporate partner, it's best to work from within to push for improvement, and that Google has been responsive.
Last year, a faction of the LGBTQ community halted the parade with a human blockade, claiming that Pride has become too cozy with big companies and law enforcement agencies.
Board members do agree SF Pride should demand accountability from its allies.
"How do they best represent as partners with us?" posed Lopez.
"Is it through stickers and t-shirts, or is it through inclusive hiring practices, and highlighting marginalized people in our community?"
The board discussion was off-limits to cameras as they are not allowed at Pride meetings.
One by one, board members spoke against summarily axing Google, and concluded a vote wasn't even necessary.
The board president had angry words for Berland and others, for also pushing a ban of the Alameda County Sheriffs Department. .
"As a person of color, I've got to stand up and say I'm not going to let you use black people to get what you want," said an incensed Carolyn Wysinger.
The rationale for making the Sheriff's Department unwelcome in the parade was their role carrying out last month's court-ordered eviction of several homeless mothers from a vacant Oakland property.
Those activities were not pride-related, and Wysinger noted, the Sheriff's Office has never been in the Pride parade, or even asked to participate.
"I always make sure we are acting with integrity, that we are not going out and picking fights and telling people, hey I don't like you, don't come to my house. That's not something that we would do," Wysinger told KTVU.
As for dis-inviting Google, and forfeiting its monetary support, there appears to be little traction, but Wysinger says discussion will continue.
The parade lineup is still uncertain, with Pride weekend set for the weekend of June 27-28, 2020.
"Right now we're still settling on the details, so we don't know who's in and who's not in the parade, that's something we're still working on," said Wysinger.