Demonstrators boycott SF Pride parade, protest Gaza war

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Monday July 1, 2024
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Between 1,000 and 1,500 people took part in a march for Palestine Sunday, June 30, in San Francisco. Photo: John Ferrannini
Between 1,000 and 1,500 people took part in a march for Palestine Sunday, June 30, in San Francisco. Photo: John Ferrannini

Demonstrators took to the streets of San Francisco's Castro and Mission neighborhoods June 30, boycotting the city's Pride parade due to "sponsorship and participation" from politicians, groups, and corporations who didn't call for, or opposed, a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip or who contract with the Israeli government.

The protest, "No Pride in Genocide: Queer and Trans March for Palestinian Liberation," started at Church and Market streets and made its way down Church Street to the Mission before making its way to Castro and Market streets.

"We estimate somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 people there, especially at the heart of the march," Carla Schick, a queer and nonbinary person who is with Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism!, told the Bay Area Reporter. "As we marched down Valencia [Street], people started to join in who hadn't marched with us."

Background on conflict

As the B.A.R. previously reported, the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee has been criticized by groups on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which catapulted to the center of American political discourse after the events of October 7, 2023, when Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip (one of the two Palestinian territories), killed 1,139 people in Israel in the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.

Since then, Hamas has been holding Israelis who were abducted October 7 as hostages in Gaza. (The number of hostages still being held is 116 as of press time. Others have been released.)

Israel responded to the Hamas attack with an extensive bombing campaign in Gaza, and a ground invasion with the stated goal of destroying Hamas, which has led to the deaths of over 37,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza's health ministry.

The United States provides billions of dollars in military aid to Israel annually. The Biden administration has faced pressure from some Democrats and protesters to cut off that aid, or make it conditional on a ceasefire.

Much of the Gaza Strip is now under Israeli control, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu characterized the Gaza conflict as winding down in a recent interview on Israeli TV.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry determined both the Israeli government and Hamas have committed war crimes, and the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for the leaders of both Israel and Hamas. Biden denounced the ICC warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "outrageous." (This is separate from South Africa's case in the International Court of Justice alleging that Israel is committing genocide in the Gaza Strip.)

The other Palestinian territory Israel has occupied since its victory in the Six Day War in 1967, the West Bank, is on the western side of the Jordan River from Jordan. The civil government there is the Palestinian National Authority, which is recognized by the U.N. and 145 countries as the government of Palestine.

SF march

The San Francisco demonstration was called because Mayor London Breed and other local politicians such as gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and gay supervisors Rafael Mandelman (District 8) and Matt Dorsey (District 6) didn't support a January resolution at the Board of Supervisors calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. While Wiener did not vote on the issue, as he is now in the Legislature, Dorsey and Mandelman voted no on the measure, which passed 8-3. It took effect without the signature of Breed.

Jesse Ehrensaft-Hawley is queer and gender-nonconforming and with Jewish Voices for Peace. They told the B.A.R. that another reason for the protest was because Amazon and Google participated in the SF Pride parade, and "they are designing technology used to surveil by the Israeli military the Palestinians in Gaza" and because the Jewish Community Relations Council, which also participated in the parade, was also opposed to the ceasefire resolution.

Breed, Amazon, and Google did not return requests for comment.

When asked about the criticism of his organization July 2, JCRC Bay Area President Tyler Harris Gregory, a gay man, told the B.A.R. that "to cancel 90% of Bay Area Jews for supporting a Jewish state of Israel is antisemitic."

(A 2022 survey of Bay Area Jews published by J. The Jewish News of Northern California found that 89% believed in Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.)

"To disagree with Israel's government is fair game," he continued, adding, "I don't see anyone in the queer community delegitimizing Iran, China, or Russia, countries with problems, but with queer communities."

JCRC participated in the Pride parade up Market Street Sunday.

"It was a huge success," he said. "The Jewish community has been struggling the last nine months with increased antisemitism. Especially for queer Jews to have the opportunity to celebrate who we are means a lot to the community."

Mandelman did not return a request for comment on the groups' Pride boycott for a previous report. Wiener and Dorsey did, however. Dorsey stated before the parade he has "no specific response, other than that I'm looking forward to having a great time at Pride, where we celebrate our community and the wide diversity of opinions represented in it."

Wiener, noting a poster for a June 23 gathering titled "Queer as in Intifada: SF Pride rides with genocide," responded, "I don't comment on hateful posts that literally contain the Hamas red triangle."

As the B.A.R. previously reported, the board of SF Pride earlier this year called for a ceasefire in the conflict. A contingent from the Party for Socialism and Liberation was at the front of the city's official Pride parade with a sign that read "Pride Means Fight Back! LGBTQ Solidarity with Palestine," and chanting "stop the U.S. war machine!" The Pride committee did not return a request for comment.

Jon Monaco, a gay man with QUIT!, said that he marched because he is like "so many people around who are so horrified by the atrocities in Gaza and we feel like there are not enough people speaking up about it. There's a lot of silence around the issue and it's important for us in the LGBT community to speak up because we are people who know about being marginalized and oppressed."

Ehrensaft-Hawley said Jewish Voices for Peace Bay Area has been around since the 1990s and that the June 30 march was "a beautiful way for the LGBTQ community across identities to come together to ground ourselves in the origins of the spirit of Stonewall, as well as the Compton's Cafeteria riots that preceded stonewall by a few years — fights against state violence against our community.

"We are still in that fight in the Bay Area in San Francisco where surveillance and policing of queer and trans homeless communities, of Black and Brown trans and queer communities link to both our Palestinian trans and queer communities in Gaza and the occupied territories," Ehrensaft-Hawley added.


A common theme among the demonstrators was "pinkwashing," which is the promotion of the pro-LGBTQ aspects of a corporation, political group, or government in order to downplay other things that might be considered negative. Corporations that participate in Pride but donate to anti-LGBTQ politicians are often accused of it, as is Israel.

Same-sex sexual activity became legal in Israel in 1988, and discrimination against gays and lesbians became illegal four years later. It became the first country in Asia to recognize same-sex unions (although it does not recognize same-sex marriages unless they are performed abroad).

Homosexuality has been legal in the West Bank since 1951, though there are no non-discrimination protections. Homosexuality is prohibited in the Gaza Strip, which still uses a colonial-era criminal code.

"We focus on pinkwashing within the LGBTQ community," Schick said. "That's part of Israel's propaganda campaign to get us to believe they are the only democracy in the area and Palestinians are these evil people. Pinkwashing, or saying Israel is pro-gay rights, is really a cover of the horrible crimes of colonial-settler occupation that has been committed by Israel for decades."

Israel was founded as a Jewish state in 1948 on the territory of the then-British Mandate of Palestine.

Asked if Israel has a right to exist, Schick said, "the march has not really taken a stand."

"Jewish Voices for Peace identifies as an anti-Zionist group," Schick said. "It entails Palestine should be free and liberated, and we should not have a state based on theology. ... Most people in the U.S. probably believe, even anti-Zionists, that's for people in the area to decide, and the Palestinians deserve self-determination."

Asked about criticism of their movement considering the state of LGBTQ rights in the Palestinian territories, Schick said they hope people see "that there is queer solidarity in this movement, and we believe in the interconnection of liberation for all people. We're all connected, and you can't say people will be liberated without all people being liberated."

Monaco and Schick said they hope the march changes people's minds.

"Nobody's against anybody celebrating gay Pride yesterday, it's more — and this is personal — I wish people would wake up a little bit more and take notice of this really atrocious war," Monaco said July 1. "If they would listen to more of the people's voices, I think our national government would probably move a lot faster and stop funding the war."

Schick said, "My biggest hope, too, is the so-called political leaders begin to feel the pressure from all these demonstrations in the streets and change their positions and follow the lead of progressive people in government to end the militarism and have a ceasefire."

The march was called by QUIT! and Jewish Voices for Peace's Bay Area chapter. It was endorsed by 12 other groups including the Arab Resource and Organizing Center; Bay Area Families for Ceasefire; Bay Area American Indian Two Spirits; the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network; Bay Area Labor for Palestine; the California Coalition for Women Prisoners; Teaching Palestine; Animal Rights for Palestine; Showing up for Racial Justice; Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas; the Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project; and Flying Over Walls.

Updated 7/2/24: This article has been updated with comments from JCRC.

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