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Baker to Receive Pride Honor

by Seth Hemmelgarn .
Tuesday May 22, 2012

The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee has announced more honorees for this year's parade and festival. They include the creator of the rainbow flag and several grand marshals.

Gilbert Baker, 60, who designed the internationally recognized gay banner and was an early member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, will be presented with the Gilbert Baker Pride Founders Award. The honor will be presented on the main stage on Sunday, June 24.

"I was surprised, truthfully," said Baker of the honor. "I caused so much trouble in that town. ... It's really nice that people would recognize my work."

Baker, who now lives in New York City, said, "I've been pretty privileged to go to gay prides around the world," and San Francisco's celebration, which draws hundreds of thousands of people, "is pretty special."

The festival "really is a beacon of hope, and it's so much fun," said Baker.

One challenge Baker faces is figuring out what to wear. He said based on his recollection of the chilly San Francisco nights, stiletto heels and a chiffon dress won't do.

The Pride Committee's board recently selected former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to be this year's lifetime achievement grand marshal. Brown, who was also once speaker of the California Assembly, has been a staunch advocate of LGBT rights.

"From civil rights to education reform, tax policy, economic development, health care, international trade, domestic partnerships, and affirmative action, [Brown's] left his imprimatur on every aspect of politics and public policy in the Golden State," a Pride Committee news release said. Brown didn't respond to a request for comment.

Pride's electoral college, which is composed of former community grand marshals, has selected Gary Virginia as its choice for individual community grand marshal.

Virginia, a fundraiser, activist, and a person living with AIDS, has produced numerous benefits for AIDS, breast cancer, emergency humanitarian relief, and U.S. and international LGBT civil rights. He's on the executive committee of Gays Without Borders/SF and founded the Krewe de Kinque Mardi Gras charitable club, among many other achievements.

"I'm really honored" by the recognition, said Virginia, 52, who pointed out it gives him another platform to encourage others to get more involved in human rights.

There are "so many atrocities going on in the world that this theme of Global Equality is terrific this year, because we can act collectively so easily through the Internet" and other means, he said, referring to the 2012 Pride theme.

The Pride Committee's board has selected Edaj, Olga Talamante, and Morningstar Vancil as individual grand marshals.

Edaj, 39, who uses only one name, is a choreographer, producer, emcee, and DJ. Among her other work, she was executive producer of Pride's women's stage from 2002-2010.

"She ensured there was a space for women at the celebration and showcased a diverse, multi-talented global representation of the women s community on the stage," stated Pride officials.

In an interview, Edaj said she was "very surprised" to be selected as a grand marshal.

"I've been working with Pride so long I didn't imagine myself as anything other than someone there to support Pride," she said.

Talamante, 62, is the executive director of the Chicana/Latina Foundation, which works to empower Chicanas and Latinas through their personal, educational, and professional advancement.

Talamante said she was "honored" to be selected. There's "a lot to celebrate," she said, and "a lot to continue to work for. I hope everyone comes out that day and celebrates together."

Vancil, a former Pride Committee board member, didn't provide comment in time for the print edition, but said Wednesday afternoon that she is "grateful."

Previously announced individual community grand marshals are Sister Roma of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Prozan. The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California is the community organizational grand marshal.

This year's San Francisco LGBT Pride celebration is set to include main stage entertainment by Gypsy Love and J.C. Jones. Celebrity grand marshals this year will include comedian Sarah Silverman and Carmen Carerra, who's appeared on RuPaul's Drag Race.

The 42nd annual San Francisco Pride Parade and celebration is June 23-24. For more information, visit

Copyright Bay Area Reporter. For more articles from San Francisco's largest GLBT newspaper, visit


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