Father Tony

NYC Grand Marshals Announced

Filed By Father Tony | February 16, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Living, The Movement
Tags: Dan Choi, judy shepard, New York City Pride

Heritage of Pride (HOP) has this week, in two separate statements, announced the names of its grand marshals for the 2010 New York City Pride march. One name caused a dust up, the other none at all.

dan judy.jpg

The two grand marshals will be Dan Choi and Judy Shepard.

HOP announces that this is the last time the mother of Matthew Shepard will serve as a Pride march grand marshal. As I read the HOP press release about Judy Shepard, I kept wondering what this announcment signified. I can only conclude that Judy Shepard may be feeling that her work is finally complete and that she is intending to return to private life having accomplished what she set out to do, honoring her son. If this is the case, I hope everyone in New York City for the march will give her the resounding thanks she deserves.

The announcement about Dan Choi produced an interesting variety of reactions. There was an almost immediate surgical dissection by rabid non-doctoral commenters as to the merits of Dan in the LGBTQ community and to his "active duty" status. This tempest in the gay teapot (and one cannot be too careful today about using tea-related imagery) didn't have much steam and I suspect Dan will be well applauded on the streets of New York.

The director of the NYC Pride march, Maurice Michaane, is a personal friend and a teammate over on Queer New York. It is fascinating to know what goes on behind the scenes in the difficult and meticulous grand marshal selection process.

And for the sake of all you "Gotcha-Grammarkins", either marshal or marshall is correct but the single-l version seems to prevail.

The NYC Pride March will happen on Sunday, June 27, 2010. Your favorite NYC LGBTQ bloggers will be marching together for a second year. Join us!

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with Dan Choi, it'd be spelled "martial"

Dear Wilson,
Very good. Wish I had thought of it.

I thought Dan just returned to active duty in Afghanistan. If that's the case (and please, if I'm wrong, correct me), wont it be a bit difficult for him to be GM in anything but the most symbolic of ways?

Dear Sean,
For a complete examination of this matter go to JoeMyGod. Go back to Feb 9th (I think) and read the lengthy comment thread about all that.

Or read our post on it that started it all - no need to read another site's comment section! He went back to train with his National Guard unit. Everyone linked us and suddenly the story grew to everything from he was "called to active duty" to "he's being sent to Afghanistan."

Huffington Post & the Advocate had to print retractions since they blew the story well out of proportion. I was happy to see the MSNBC, CBS, and CNN stories got it right though.

I just discovered, Tony, that you had included my comment regarding two of my friends, Dan Choi and the late Leonard Matlovich, on the Heritage of Pride site re their announcement about Dan being a Grand Marshal this year. I never knew you were connected, but, in any case, thank you.

Unfortunately, I also see that [one assumes] Maurice Michaane has not corrected the factual error I addressed from the press release:

"Lt. Choi’s selection and acceptance of the honor of NYC LGBT Pride Grand Marshal marks the first time in U.S. history that an openly gay male on active service with the U.S. Armed Forces will be an LGBT Pride March Grand Marshal."

One doesn't have to be a "doctor" of any kind to prove that false; that not Dan but Leonard and Skip Keith were the first in 1975. And, also possibly Barbara Randolph and her partner Debbie Watson though I've yet to verify exactly when their discharges took place, while Leonard's and Skip's were months after the '75 march.

In that comment, I linked to two photos documenting their participation, as well as pointed out that Randy Shilts had described it in his landmark book on the military ban, "Conduct Unbecoming." For the record, on page 212.

The only reason I tried to explain the difference between "active service" and "active duty" is because the press release was concurrent with all the confusion about the nuances of Dan's actual status which, in turn, let to a tremendous amount of misunderstanding about the status of the fight against DADT [which persists to this day in an online "Advocate" article].

I, as others, as you know, were also confused about the "first" claim when Dan was a Grand Marshal last year in San Francisco's Pride Parade. I trust that whoever wrote the release meant only in reference to NYC's event, but, of course, once again, that is factually incorrect albeit for another reason.

Dan is unquestionably a hero and the leading spokesperson against the ban. It's fantastic that Heritage of Pride is including him both because he deserves it and the need to affirm the fight that Leonard began and Dan continues.

Knowing him as I do, I'm confidant Dan would not want such erroneous statements made that needlessly serve to disrespect rather than celebrate an important part of our heritage. Just as the Compton's Cafeteria riot preceded Stonewall and Elaine Noble preceded Harvey Milk as the first out person elected to a major office.

Thank you.

Dear Michael,

I have no affiliation with Heritage of Pride. I could not and never have placed anything on their website. You are absolutely wrong in that assumption.

Also, Everyone who has ever ready your commentary knows that you are a relentless apologist (postulator?) for Leonard Matlovich. You have given voice repeatedly to your conviction that Dan Choi would agree with you. So there we are. I don't have an opinion about this argument. I also think it has been handled ad nauseam elsewhere (JoeMyGod).

Anyway, as I suggested elsewhere, you should write to Maurice Michaane at Heritage of Pride. He and others think well of you so approaching him about this issue might be gratifying for all.

Tony, unless there is ANOTHER "Father Tony" who is ALSO a "personal friend" of NYC March Director Maurice Michaane, you should recall that the site of your post that I referred to and the "elsewhere" you apparently refer to was his queernewyorkblog site.

That I confused it with the official site of HOP is both understandable given his position and links back and forth between HOP's and his site, and secondary to the issue that he/they/pick your poison is still falsely advertising their event more than a week after being informed on Mr. Michaane's site that it IS false advertising.

When I've been made aware one of my friends has made an embarrassing error, let alone a public one, I rush to draw it to their attention. But, of course, mine is not to judge the relationships of others.

As for your curious use of the word "apologist," particularly in juxtaposition with "relentless," I know that different people define it differently. I can only speak to that of Merriam-Webster: "one who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something."

Leonard needs no defense, nor do Skip Keith, Barbara Randolph, and Debbie Watson...except from homohating supporters of DADT. What they do need, and deserve, is respect for their pioneering courage and the truth.

That's all I've ever suggested.

Dear Michael,

Your confusion of the two sites is your mistake and your assumptions about the relation between sites and folks is also a mistake. No big deal, but it needed correction.

Also, I did not juxtapose "apologist" with "relentless". I amplified it.

Whatever it is you say you are suggesting should be brought to the right people. Not to me or Bilerico. I don't know anything about the list of people you included but I can see you do have issues. Whenever I read your comments, I always think the same thing. Here is someone who has much to say and should say it formally rather than as a lengthy commenter who seems to be frustrated in gaining agreement. Honestly, I think you would be more successful in a different format. Just my opinion after having read your comments literally for years.

Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | February 16, 2010 8:35 PM

I address issues where I find them. Unless you wish to call me, and posthumously Randy Shilts, a liar, you, a Bilerico editor, hyperlinked to, on Bilerico, a press release you knew to contain misinformation.

I have simply and politely tried to correct that record.

Dear Michael,

Again, that is your argument and your contention. I do NOT know that my links or posts about this contain any misinformation. Honestly, what comes through loud and clear is your frustration, not your facts. I don't much like being the Simon Cowell in this business but I think you need a reality check about how you sound because I think it works against you. I don't know if you are right or wrong. It's pointless to try to get me to argue this. Why don't you want to bring this to Maurice Michaane? He's the one who wrote what you say is false.

I'm, confused, why would anyone have an issue with Dan being GM? Better him than some straight celebrity "ally".

LOL, I too thought that Judy Shepard was the controversial one. There has been a great deal of misunderstanding about Dan Choi's "active duty" status, mostly due to the fact that the people discussing have never been in the military and don't understand all the arcane and subtle differences between various statuses soldiers can have. I never thought he was the controversial subject so much as his place in the military is unknown right now.

Shepard, on the other hand, has been the target of race and class based criticism for years, what with her quest to put more people in prison longer. (Fortunately, anti-gay hate crimes are over with the passage of the MSA.) I guess no one raised those questions in NYC, but I definitely thought she was the more controversial one of the two.

Well, heck, bottom line is: they're both good people. That's all that matters.