BERKELEY -- True to Berkeley's radical roots, the city-sponsored Pride Festival Monday night honored jailed whisleblower Bradley Manning and called on the LGBT community to pay greater attention to issues of gay and transgender homelessness and unemployment.
"Today, like many of you, I sat around waiting to hear from the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage," Juana Maria Rodrigues, professor of gender and women's studies at UC Berkeley, told the cheering crowd of around 200 people at the downtown Freight & Salvage Coffee House. "But no matter what the court decides, I know, as a community, we have so much work we need to do. "
There are other issues besides the marriage equality effort, she said.
"Marriage is not and cannot be the beginning and end of the Gay Lesbian Trans Movement. Today between 20 and 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT. Over half of your queer kids on the streets have been sexually victimized. Fighting for the right of homeless people is an LGBT issue."
While the San Francisco Pride Parade board overturned a nomination of Bradley Manning as grand marshal, Berkeley's Pride Festival honored him. Manning is the 25-year-old gay soldier currently being court marshaled for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks.
Daniel Ellsberg, famed Kensington resident who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the media in 1971, invited people to join the Bradley Manning contingent at Sunday's San Francisco Pride parade.
"The fact that there are so many people around this world and around this country -- and that there will be on Sunday -- that honor Bradley Manning as a real patriot and hero as I do, that is something that makes me proud to be an American," he said.
Speeches were interspersed with entertainment. Momma's Boyz, who bill themselves as the Hot Drag King Sensations, brought cheers from the crowd with their rap and dance. Singer-songwriter Betsy Rose crooned "Darling, I'm glad that your gay," and activist performer Andrea Prichett sang an original song honoring Kayla Xavier Moore, a transgender person who died in Berkeley police custody in February.
City Councilman Kriss Worthington, the first openly gay person elected to the council, emceed the event. Councilman Darryl Moore, also openly gay, spoke, as did Christine Daniel, Berkeley's first lesbian city manager.
William Rogers, the city's first openly gay deputy city manager ran down a list of Berkeley milestones: the 1973 founding of the Pacific Center, the third-oldest LGBT community center in the country; anti-discrimination laws passed by the City Council in 1978 that included sexual orientation; and the 1984 council decision to extend employee benefits to unmarried couples of any gender.
"All of these actions that happened in Berkeley serve as a model to the rest of the world to help propel the movement forward," Rogers said.