My SPEECH DELIVERED at PINK TRIANGLE Installation Ceremony today – Sat June 24, 2017 – Melanie Nathan – ED of African Human Rights Coalition and Vice President of San Francisco Pride Board.
Thank you all for being here today – greetings to our elected officials, and to Patrick Carney – a big thank you for honor and the kind invitation to speak here today…
You have just heard the history of the Pink Triangle so perfectly delivered by the cast of When We Rise and the real people they portrayed.
On a personal note, before I begin my prepared remarks – I would just like to say how meaningful this is to me – I am a Jewish lesbian and BOTH my children have grandparents who were Holocaust survivors.
In 2014 I spoke here at this installation ceremony- and as we looked down at the magnificence of this huge PINK TRIANGLE, adorning Twin Peaks, now a symbol of PRIDE, rather than one of NAZI OPPRESSION, and as we applauded our equality gains here in the USA, I drew a startling comparison between 1939 Nazi Germany and 2014 Uganda.
I paralleled the start of the Nazi trajectory – and how what seemed like benign scapegoating and rhetoric against homosexuals, escalated to a cruel insidious outcome – EXTERMINATION.
Despite the world saying never again, it was that identical seemingly benign scapegoating and rhetoric that led to Uganda’s Kill the Gays Bill. I think that analogy surprised and shocked many of you who were here.
Not in a million and one years would I have imagined that I would be standing here again, a mere 3 years later – looking down again at this magnificent symbol of PRIDE, only this time to talk about a President of The United States of America invoking the very same rhetoric and scapegoating that I spoke of then and threatening those gains. That I would be here to warn of a trajectory that has such terrifying potential – if we are to learn from history.
AND SO WE HAVE NO CHOICE only a critical OBLIGATION – to RESIST.
That is why today this event- the symbolism of the PINK TRIANGLE takes on a poignant reminder – like no time before this. While we have in fact been RESISTING for decades – NOW the stakes are higher than ever before –
We have a President and a Vice President – with the power of a supportive majority in Congress – condoning the very scapegoating that has led to unimaginable consequences.
With this in mind I would like to read a letter that I sent to the LGBTI Refugees in Africa who were first threatened by the Trump rhetoric and then directly impacted by his attempt to implement his plan, through his unconstitutional Executive Orders.
I also note the significance of our resistance here – BECAUSE it is being heard around the world – by those desperate for HOPE:
My friends in the Camps –
On this coming Sunday 25th June, joining the San Francisco Pride Board Resistance Contingent there will be over 50 LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees who made it to America, and they will be helping to lead this year’s San Francisco Pride Parade down Market Street, San Francisco. Millions of people will line the streets or be watching TV broadcasts.
Those marching with us are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals who have gone through the same long arduous process that you are still enduring with great suffering – some of you for many years now.
We will be marching with YOU in our hearts.
We are marching for our OWN pride, to RESIST homophobia and transphobia, and to celebrate newfound freedom for many, and most importantly at this difficult time to draw attention to YOUR plight and YOUR suffering as you hope for and await your resettlement and your own freedom.
Pride events all around the world serve many purposes – AND – as a beacon of hope.
Pride Parade is the light carried by millions of people around the world, that extends to YOU in your place of darkness – sending hope and reminding you that SOON you too will be free to live your sexuality and gender identity to its fullest.
With this message from here in San Francisco, we say –
Keep the focus on your process so that you too will join us in the years ahead, and you too will then have the opportunity to shine this light for others.
We will keep going with PRIDE – – – – until such time this world SEES us and treats us ALL with the dignity and respect that is our most basic human right.
We are marching to resist the walls that the Trump administration has tried to put in your way!
To resist the U.S. Muslim travel bans —— and the refugee program suspensions —— that were used in an attempt to keep you out.
We won’t let that happen. AND So far we are winning and we will continue to RESIST to ensure we keep winning.
We are marching to ensure our OWN freedom and we are marching in the hope that YOU will soon see yours.
As Vice President of San Francisco Pride Board – and as I stand at the helm of this magnificent PINK TRIANGLE I am SO proud of this important platform.
In solidarity – and with much love –
A luta continua, vitória é certa
Vice President San Francisco Pride Board
African Human Rights Coalition.