Melanie Nathan (right), director of the San Francisco African Leadership Institute, wrote a scathing piece about the state department's denial of visas for several LGBTI persons from African countries whom she had invited to march in the San Francisco Pride Parade. The 2014 celebration, called "Color Our World with Pride," should have been the perfect venue for the expression of oppressed communities from around the globe, particularly LGBTI Africans and particularly given the United States' response to anti-gay actions on the part of the Ugandan government, among others. Nathan found herself distressed at the notion of Secretary of State John Kerry touting the state department's commitment to global equality initiatives (as the speaker at the department's GLIFAA Pride event, no less) while denying visas to the people who need them most.
Writes Nathan at HuffPost:
The State Department denied seven people a platform to speak about the persecution in their countries, presumably for fear that they might not return home to the countries that persecute them. And after they were denied, a clear pattern emerged, and I pulled 11 of the remaining 14 applicants.
While the Obama administration and this secretary of state have supported the LGBT movement like none before, there is no excuse for this flagrant snub and the homophobic attitude expressed by some of the consular officials who did the interviewing.
Nathan argues that by denying visas the U.S. government is abetting the oppression faced by many of the people she had invited for participation in the Pride event. "[By] denying these Pride visas, we may as well have added the victims of the persecution to the blacklist too," Nathan writes.
She believes that Kerry (left) and his department have done a disservice to the global community, and it is hard to deny the cruel irony of the situation:
"No matter where you are, no matter who you love, we stand with you," noted Kerry in that Pride-affirming speech. "And that's what pride means, and that's what drives us today."
And he further assured, "The journey isn't complete. The march isn't over. The promise isn't perfected. But we will march on together."
No, Mr. Secretary, it seems that in fact we are not marching together. You have denied us all that privilege.