Honoring Our Legacies: APIENC at SF Pride
APIENC won Community Grand Marshal of SF Pride 2019 by public vote. This is an honor and a responsibility. With increased police presence, heavy corporate involvement, and impact on the local underhoused communities, SF Pride is far from its radical roots. When we won, we didn’t know what to do. But we wanted to be intentional, so during these past few weeks, APIENC’s Core Committee met, discussed contradictions, and asked questions to ensure that we were acting in our values.
Back in January, APIENC’s Core Committee voted to move forward with accepting the nomination of Community Grand Marshal. When we found out in March that we won, we were filled with contradicting emotions. On one hand, wow, the public must really love us! On the other hand, SF Pride does not reflect our values, our politics, or our people.
There were so many reasons for us, as young, pro-abolition, anti-capitalist, queer, trans, Asians and Pacific Islanders to not participate. For many of us, Pride doesn’t feel good or safe, the food is too expensive, and the police & corporate presence has increased over the years leaving a negative impact on our local communities. We asked many questions to ourselves: Do we want to publicly reject the grand marshal honor? Do we participate but make it low-key? Do we arrange our own direct action? No matter what, we wanted our final decision to be guided by dignity and integrity.
This was our process: we spoke with past Community Grand Marshals and community elders, we spoke with each other and ultimately, we had long conversations as APIENC’s Core Committee. We shared our learnings with Vince Crisostomo, an APIENC member and this year’s individual Community Grand Marshal. He guided us in our vision by helping us move from a place of intentionality and not reactivity.
This process resulted in shared collective concerns we brought to Pride. We asked questions like, “Do the police really have to be at Pride?” and “Can the organizers pressure local authorities to not sweep encampments or target homeless people in preparation for Pride?” and “Can food vendors accept EBT and possibly donate excess/leftover food to shelters?”
Through this process, we learned that Pride is trying. And ultimately, we decided to participate in Pride as the Community Grand Marshal because we want to use this platform to push this space to be better for all queer and trans peoples.
Given what we’ve learned through this process, here are concrete asks that APIENC and Vince Crisostomo believe SF Pride can implement in the near future:
- ACCESS: List clearer accessibility information on the SF Pride website as it pertains specifically to d/Deaf or hard of hearing folks; people with mobility disabilities, visual disabilities, cognitive disabilities, and other invisible disabilities. We suggest including the following:
- Designating on maps the wheelchair accessible areas at the event
- Requesting that attendees come fragrance-free
- And we have the following questions: Can folks get disabled parking permits? Are there ADA accessible portable toilets/restrooms? How can folks request to ride the trolley?
- LOCAL IMPACT: Assess and report back on what Pride’s impact is on the 25 city blocks where it takes place, specifically the numbers of folks being displaced by police sweeps and arrests.
- Pressure City Hall and SFPD to find alternatives to criminalizing people (ie: sweeps, street arrests in the weeks before pride, etc.) on the blocks where SF Pride operates.
- In the event of any sweep, work with local organizations to house and resource any displaced residents.
- TRUE COMMUNITY SAFETY: On the website, clearly state SF Pride’s philosophy and practices as it pertains to community safety, police presence, and militarism. Publically commit to investing in trained, community-based safety volunteers and systems at the march and festival, rather than relying on SFPD or other local police forces.
- LEVERAGE SPONSORS: Leverage corporate sponsorships to give free food/drink tickets to local community attendees and groups who could not otherwise afford food. Distribute free food/drink tickets by partnering with local grassroots community organizations.
We know this list is not comprehensive and we ask for grace from our community where we have fallen short.
This Pride will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. On June 28, 1969, trans and queer people of color like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera rose up against the police that were violently attacking our communities. This is why we chant, “Police Out of Pride!” – their presence is a contradiction; they have no business being at Pride, and we deeply believe that they do NOT protect us. By accepting Community Grand Marshal, we accept our responsibility over the story we tell about APIENC, to emphasize that we must value People over Pride, and to honor our queer and trans legacies, all while holding SF Pride accountable to our communities.
Are you a group or organization that wants to co-sign these asks? Sign up HERE!