San Francisco drag chanteuse BeBe Sweetbriar was named an individual community grand marshal by the San Francisco Pride board Friday.
Sweetbriar was selected by what is known as the electoral college, a group of former community grand marshals. The electoral college had previously chosen gay Army Private Bradley Manning but his honor was rescinded by the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee’s board after it determined he was ineligible because he is not local.
Manning, the WikiLeaks whistle-blower, is in a military prison awaiting a court-martial on criminal charges related to his leaking 700,000 classified government documents.
The Pride board’s decision to strip Manning of the honor has stirred a hornet’s nest of protest from his supporters, who plan to march in the Pride parade as they have the last couple years.
A San Francisco resident for nearly 20 years, Sweetbriar has dedicated her talents to raising funds for local LGBT community-based organizations, according to a release from the Pride Committee. She immediately became a force to be reckoned with upon arriving on the entertainment scene five years ago. She won two of the three most prominent drag pageants, becoming Miss Gay San Francisco 2008 and Miss Desperate diva 2008, and has been a fundraiser for the AIDS Housing Alliance/San Francisco, Under One Roof, Larkin Street Youth Services, LYRIC, GLAAD, the Richmond-Ermet AIDS Foundation, and other organizations.
“It is truly an honor to be recognized by my peers for my efforts to uplift our community and movement,” Sweetbriar said in a statement released by the Pride Committee. “I’ve put my heart and soul into raising awareness and resources for organizations that benefit us all in one way or another. As grand marshal I hope to serve as an example to young people what is possible, and that you can make a difference.”
SF Pride CEO Earl Plante said that Sweetbriar “is a shining exemplar of how the power of local community talent can so positively impact the lives of so many near and far.”
The fallout from the Manning controversy continues, however. Under pressure from gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos, who wrote a letter to the Pride board expressing his dissatisfaction with the situation, Plante and the board are expected to hold a community meeting to discuss the issue before the June 29-30 Pride festivities. So far, a definite date hasn’t been set, but the meeting is likely to be held in a couple weeks, or earlier.
When the Pride board rescinded Manning’s honor, it said that eligibility criteria for electoral college grand marshals as defined as “a local hero (individual) not being a celebrity.”
A quick view of Sweetbriar’s website (www.bebesweetbriar.com) indicates that she is an entertainer, actor, solo artist, columnist, and activist.
We send a message to Plante asking for clarification and will update when we hear back.
[Updated: Plante responded Monday saying that the board defines celebrity "as being someone like J Lo or Madonna," referring to Jennifer Lopez.
"Bebe is in that sense is a local performer," he added.]