The Pride Parade.
That's what it's called in San Francisco when the community gathers for a parade during the annual San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Celebration. It is, by all accounts, a wingding of a celebration, too. As the San Francisco Chronicle, the media sponsor of the Pride Parade, put it in their special section devoted to the celebration in 2001, the parade is "the granddaddy, grandma and grandtrannie of 'em all." (That would be trannie as in "transvestite.")
The paper, bursting with civic pride, was also pleased to publish the marching order of the parade and all its celebrants. It's quite a list. A who's who of San Francisco. Then Supervisor and now Democratic mayor Gavin Newsom, members of two Democratic Clubs, California Democratic legislators, the police, sheriff and fire departments and even the director of the Golden Gate Bridge were marching right alongside celebrants from Vulva University, The Stud Bar, and Leather Pride.
It is, in short, the San Francisco political establishment whooping it up with its constituents.
What interests in all of this in light of the unfolding scandal involving Florida Republican Rep. Mark Foley and his mind-boggling e-mails to a young House page are the participants in spots number 31 and 34 of the Pride Parade.
Celebrant number 31 was the late Harry Hay. Harry, it seems, was quite the guy. In fact, it is not too much to say that he was famous in San Francisco. He was famous not only as a founder of the gay rights movement, for his one-time relationship with actor Will Geer (who played Grandpa Walton on The Waltons TV series,) he was also known for being featured in the 1976 documentary film of gay life titled Word Is Out. When he died the following year after the parade, at 90, the New York Times Magazine featured him in "The Lives They Lived," its annual pictorial salute to famous Americans who had passed away during the preceding year. In addition to laudatory obits in both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, the Chronicle did a considerably flattering obituary. "Harry Hay, gay rights pioneer, dies at 90." The paper favorably notes a number of things in Harry's life, including his left-leaning politics, his connection with the Communist Party in the 1930s and his founding of "The Mattachine Society," a group the Chronicle calls "the first sustained homosexual rights organization in the United States."
Fair enough. The Chronicle, however, left something else out of the obituary entirely. It was a very strong belief held by Harry Hay that, if one is to believe all the attention devoted to Harry on the Internet, was common knowledge in San Francisco.
Harry Hay was a fierce advocate of man/boy love. While The Chronicle simply ignored Harry's views, the North American Man/Boy Love Association was only too delighted to put up a collection of Harry's views on the need for young boys to have older men as sexual partners. Here's just a sample taken from a talk at a New York University forum sponsored by a campus gay group in 1983.
Said Harry: "Because if the parents and friends of gays are truly friends of gays, they would know from their gay kids that the relationship with an older man is precisely what thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-year-old kids need more than anything else in the world."
In short, San Francisco's beloved Harry Hay was a vigorous and well-known advocate of older men having sex with young boys. He was a fearless and quite famous advocate for Congressman Mark Foley's behavior.
Which makes one curious about the presence of marcher number 34 in the 2001 Pride Parade. Marching a mere three spots away from the famous Harry Hay, no doubt waving and smiling to the crowd, was, as the Chronicle logged her in the Official Guide and Program Parade Lineup: "U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi."
That would be now Democratic leader of the U.S. Congress and the candidate of the Democratic Party to be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, the official third in line to be President of the United States.
Surely this is a different Rep. Nancy Pelosi from the one who currently has on her website as Minority Leader the following statement:
"Republican leaders admitted to knowing about Mr. Foley's abhorrent behavior for six months to a year and failed to protect the children in their trust. Republican Leaders must be investigated by the Ethics Committee and immediately questioned under oath."
Abhorrent behavior? If men having sex with children is "abhorrent behavior" then it seems it would be quite logical for a United States Congresswoman to stand up and protest the presence of one of its leading advocates having a place of honor in a civic parade -- a parade in which she herself would be marching mere steps behind him.
If Representative Pelosi took the time to condemn Harry Hay's presence in the Pride Parade, there is no evidence that I can find. Nor did she refuse to march in the parade as a protest of Mr. Hay. Nor did she issue a statement warning parents that they were bringing their kids to a parade where Mr. Hay was one of the featured attractions.
What Representative Pelosi chose to do instead -- as did much of civic San Francisco -- is blithely give a wink-and-a-nod to ole Harry and his interest in little boys.
Not only does a moment like this unintentionally reveal the mindset of what Representative Pelosi and her fellow Democrats may really think but can't -- yet -- support. (This is, after all, the city where now-Mayor Newsom took it upon himself to break new cultural ground by authorizing the performance of same-sex marriages -- in violation of California law.) It also raises the question of whether the acceptance of Harry Hay and his views is a snapshot of a larger, unspoken agenda that San Francisco Democrats want the national Democratic Party to eventually pursue when they return to a Congressional majority -- and the White House. After all, if Harry Hay's views were not only celebrated in a parade in San Francisco but were not even thought out-of-the-mainstream enough to draw the slightest protest from Ms. Pelosi, why should there be protests over a move to eventually change the laws about men having sex with boys in Pennsylvania or Missouri or Virginia?
There's two words for that kind of agenda.