Its Vicki, Marina, Terry & Hank
In an extremely close election, transgender performer and fundraiser Vicki Marlene has topped the poll in the public vote for this year's SF Pride Parade Grand Marshal. Marlene began performing over 50 years ago and continues to raise money for charities such as Pets Are Wonderful Support and the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund. Celebrating her election, Marlene said:
"From Cooch Dancer to Grand Marshal. I'm ecstatic about it!"
Vicki's 286 votes were a whisker ahead of Hank Wilson's 281 and recognizing the closeness of the result the Pride Committee is pleased to announce that Hank is also one of this year's Grand Marshals. A long-term survivor, Hank Wilson has been an activist for over thirty years and currently coordinates volunteers at Tenderloin AIDS Resource Center. Wilson said:
"I feel proud of being part of the effort that has created our beacon of hope for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders all over the world."
Joining Vicki and Hank will be the Grand Marshal elected by the General Members of SF Pride, fourteen-year-old family activist Marina Gatto, who has appeared on the Today Show, the Montell Williams Show and the Nickelodeon special "My Family is Different" with Rosie O'Donnell. Marina, who educates nationwide about her pride in having two moms and being raised as part of the San Francisco LGBT community, said:
"I think it's really important that people see kids coming from our community who are proud, and who value the diversity that we have been raised with."
Beth Teper, Executive Director of COLAGE (Children Of Lesbians And Gays Everywhere) said:
"Marina is the perfect embodiment of hope. She rings the bell of equality and liberation for all people with piercing vigilance and vision."
Rounding out the individual Grand Marshals is Terry Person-Harris elected, by a college of former grand and honorary marshals of the Parade, for her twenty years of work as an anti-violence activist. This June marks her ten-year anniversary of leadership with Community United Against Violence. Terry said:
"I will continue trying to live up to CUAV's goal of creating a world free from violence for all of us. Thank you for this wonderful recognition."
The trio joins celebrated author Armistead Maupin and comedian Marga Gomez, the Celebrity Grand Marshals, on the Parade route this year.
Marriage Equality California (MECA) was elected by the public as the Organization Grand Marshal of the Parade. With AB205, which extends the rights of domestic partners, scheduled to be on the floor of the State Assembly this June, the choice seems particularly timely.
"MECA is thrilled and honored to have been elected by the community and is looking forward to working with the Pride Committee to raise awareness around the critical marriage rights denied same-sex couples."
Said Molly McKay, MECA Executive Director for Northern California.
Pride President Joey Cain said:
"The public grand marshal voting allows us to tap into the pulse of our community and honor the people and groups that the public feels have given them hope."
Although the public voting concluded at the end of March, the winning margin in the individual grand marshal category was so close that all of the ballots were audited to ensure that no "hanging chads" got in the way of a fair election. For once, President George W. Bush was the undisputed winner of an election, winning 71% of the vote in the Pink Brick Category, cementing his unpopularity across all communities.
Full results of the public ballot and full bios and pictures of this year's Grand and Honorary Marshals can be viewed at: www.sfpride.org/grandmarshal
This year is the 33rd anniversary of the San Francisco Pride Parade and Celebration. The event theme is "You've Gotta Give Them Hope." The quote comes from Harvey Milk, the City's first openly gay elected official who was gunned down in City Hall 25 years ago, and is the answer he gave when frequently asked why he was an activist. The event is to be held over the June 28/29 weekend. For more information about the history of San Francisco Pride, please visit our website at: www.sfpride.org/heritage