Grand Marshall Tommi Avicolli Mecca won a fabulosity ribbon after his contingent Occupied the Google float.

By Tim Redmond

JUNE 29, 2014 – Wow, what a festive Pride Parade Day! The social media feeds I’m getting say as many as two million people were in the streets; I was in the streets, and I couldn’t move at all, so it was hard to count everyone else, but I think we can thank the sunshine for what could be the biggest parade crowd ever.

I’ve been at Pride parades since 1982, and this is the first one where I can honestly say I saw more women than men.

Lots of young people, lots of older people, a wonderfully diverse crowd, everybody happy, dancing, mingling, loving … although there were also more cops than I’ve ever seen.

But Pride in San Francisco has always been about politics as much as celebration, and there was great moment this morning while the parade floats were lining up and getting ready to go.

I dunno how this is handled, but the Gods of Pride – or maybe the Goddess Asphalta, who rules Urban Parking, or maybe someone at Pride Ops with a sense of humor – set the contingent of Grand Marshall (and longtime tenant rights activist) Tommi Avicolli Mecca just a few yards away from …. The Google float.

Yes, that same Google that employs a senior executive who is evicting people, that same Google that runs the buses that are getting so much attention, the same Google that activists are begging not to Be Evil anymore. And Tommi’s housing rights folks, who are way into street theater and disruption of the political type, couldn’t resist.

I didn’t see this great moment, but I heard about it and got the pictures: The Grand Marshall’s contingent climbed about the Google Bus Float and Occupied it. With bullhorns and banners and chants of “Eviction Equals Death.”

Oops, Google’s soccer-themed float became a protest message


Housing activist Sara Shortt (right) delivers an anti-gentrification message from the Google float. Photo by Peter Menchini

Then along the way, there were “die-ins.” The monitors were nervous; the cops were nervous. “And I told them, chill – it’s just street theater,” Mecca told me later when I caught up with him at Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s party in the State Building.

Tenants hold a die-in to protest evictions. Photo by Lisa Geduldig

I know Pride has gone corporate, and it’s pretty crazy that members of Gay Shame were actually arrested at a protest against the Prison Industrial Complex at (yeah) … (more on that as I get the facts).

Still, every year I go and I have a great time, and I look out over the huge crowds having an amazing party, with every elected official in town participating, and I think back to the 1980s when Ronald Reagan wouldn’t say the word AIDS and Mayor Dianne Feinstein wouldn’t once show her face at the parade, and I think: Wow, things are different.

And then I talk to Tommi Mecca and see all the queer youth who can’t live here, and all of the LGBT seniors who are being evicted, and I think: Wow, we have so much work still to do.

But it’s a big party, and we need big parties every now and then, and Anna Conda looked fabulous … and on a beautiful day, we got to enjoy San Francisco for a moment. Before we get back to work tomorrow trying to save it.

Anna Conda looks fab at the Ammiano party

  • osti

    explain why Gay Shame attacked’s stupid party and not Corporate Netflix’s “Orange is the new Black” float, Netflix being complicit in anti net freedom

    • Sam

      Because people like cute TV shows but don’t like porn?

      Interesting to see that Gay Pride is now totally mainstream, corporate and isn’t really even about being gay any more. But rather about the same stuff as the rest of the year except that nobody can park or move about town.

      Perhaps that’s a sign that we don’t need it any more?

    • Because it was a prison themed party.

      • Sam

        And that’s a problem because . . . ?

        • It’s the anniversary of stonewall, it pretty damn offensive to those who have been beaten and jailed for the rights you now enjoy.

          • Sam

            People have also gone to prison for hate crimes against gays.

            Try again.

          • Uh, you are really kind of dim if you think thats a valid retort.

          • Sam

            It evidently stumped you if that is the best you have in response.

          • Not stumped, yr comment makes no sense. One thing has nothing to do with the other.

          • g2-ca78978727d33fb007720b354c8eae9d

            It’s offensive to you. So what? It’s erotic to others. What gives you the right to try to break up someone’s party because they think differently than you? Gay Shame, LAGAI and its supporters are no different from the religious, right-wing Republicans whom they so closely resemble.

          • We have the right to protest and to educate. What people do once they are educated is up to them. You are making an assumption that we are trying to impose. We are honoring those who fought and died to get this movement out of the closet. If you still find police brutality erotic, and are able to separate the fantasy from the reality, then fine. Good for you. Enjoy yourself. But just realize it is still too close to home, and still a reality for some of us. Peace

  • Bruce Garwood Ross

    What the Fuck !

  • Well, Anna always looks fabulous – she’s cursed with great beauty and convictions.

  • Bill

    True, politics has always been part of the Pride parade. Not sure if I can recall a precedent for one group attacking and boarding a float full of people who were there to support Pride.

    Let me see if I can understand from this article why this float was harassed – they “employ a senior executive who is evicting people, that same Google that runs the buses that are getting so much attention”.

    So they have one employee who has acted inappropriately and they have good paying jobs and benefits.

    Therefore boarding their float was a ‘great moment’.

    Get ready to call me a troll.

    Tim Redmond is a weak POS that doesn’t help anybody, least of all the Progressive movement.

    • Sam

      Logic would dictate that the employer of every property owner who has ever Ellis’ed a building should be equally the object of protest then.

      For example, I once Ellis’ed a building when I was working at the Bank of America. So why is Tommi ignoring BofA? Does he maybe hold his stockbroking account there and is worried about how the valuation of his IRA might be affected by such damaging protests?

    • ethan davidson

      The following groups have disrupted pride over the years: Act-up SF, Queer Nation, Gay Shame, Occupy Pride. It’s an old tradition by now. So don’t say it’s never happened before.

      • And a tired tradition at that

  • DH24istyping

    Taking over the Google float was the most Pride thing that happened yesterday. This report is awesome. From where I sat — inside a vehicle ferrying around those who could afford it — the whole thing just felt like a corporate party. Street theater isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. It’s just an act of subversion to get people talking. That’s why the largest, most visible targets are chosen. Remember: two years ago no one beyond the usual suspects was even talking about gentrification and then the commuter bus shuttle protests happened.

  • Ted

    “Evictions = Death”?

    Didn’t Jeremy Mykaels find an affordable home in Desert Hot Springs?

    • Kevin Smith

      Evictions = A better class of people

      • Wealthy does not mean better, if fact usually quite the opposite…..just sayin.

        • Sam

          The idea that those moving in or out are better than those moving out or in is futile. It’s subjective and, in any event, every case is different.

          The criterion is better considered in terms of whether the people moving in are better for the economy and tax base than those moving out. And on balance i’d say that is true.

      • Guns or Butt Hurt

        Prejudice against wealthy people you don’t know is different from prejudice against people of color you don’t know… how?


          • Sam

            Dude, if you are unable to refute his point directly, then the least you can do tactically is to avoid drawing attention to that evident fact in such an obvious way.

  • 1) No one “attacked” the float.

    2) No one “attacked” kink’s party. There was a legitimate protest about the fetishization of prison rape and prison culture. Actual employees FROM KINK began hijacked the march to the armory, threw a bunch of stuff and caused total ruckus, which resulted in 7 arrests.

    3) Net neutrality is a real and crucial issue in this time, however, in San Francisco, the eviction crisis is far more urgent and far more pressing. Should people have protested the Netflix? Sure. Is Netflix preventing poor and working class families from staying in SF? No.

    4) I don’t understand how people can read one op-ed and then glean so many assumptions from it. It’s ridiculous. Just say that you don’t support the left, or you don’t support this or that cause. Don’t make ridiculous declarations. It makes you look really ignorant. Just because Tommi or any of the rest of us can’t make 90 of ourselves to be present to protest every symbol of injustice doesn’t mean they’re not on the radar.

    5) Corporate pride is disgusting. Our forebearers were fighting for their lives in the streets. They weren’t running around gobbling the great phalluses of the rich and greedy so that there could be A parade once a year. Get it together already.

    • Sam

      Many of us who evict, form TICs, condo convert or otherwise gentrify are gay.

      Zephyr Realty, which probably sells more TICs and Ellis’ed units in the city than any other realtor, is essentially a gay realty firm. Most other realtors in SF have a significant number of gays. Many, many landlords are gay including many of my neighbors. And thousands of gays own their own home.

      Tommi is trying to conveniently suggest that all gentrifiers are straight and all tenants/evictees are gay but it is a nonsense. In fact, you often know a neighborhood is gentrifying only when you see that gays are buying and rehab’ing in a big way.

      Can Tommi lose the dumb stereotypes? You can get away with the rich/poor divide, maybe. You cannot get away with painting all gays as victims. Want me to tell you about my gay neighbors who own $4 million worth of real estate?

      • fred

        Than fuck you for evicting people and destroying their lives.

        • Sam

          Fred, the point isn’t whether you think that the people who move out of SF are somehow magically better than those who move into their homes.

          The point is that it isn’t a straight/gay issue on the self-serving way that Tommi is trying to brainwash you into believing.

      • Yes and let me say fuck you again. Man with folks like you guys I can’t wait for the revolution.

    • No Inclusiveness Here

      You had your own float.

      LGBT tech workers fought and still fight for recognition and respect in the industry. Thanks for taking the time to shit on them.

  • Bill

    >”1) No one “attacked” the float.”

    Um, excuse me, but there is a PICTURE of Sara Shortt and other ‘activists’ ON the Google float!

    So you’re saying that they were invited up there?

    Did you stop to think about the fact that there was photographic evidence before you lied?

    • First of all, Henny Penny, calm down. The sky is not falling. No one ATTACKED the float. There were no weapons, no intent to physically harm, no one was harmed. Were they overrun for a minute? Certainly. Take a deep breath already.

      • Bill

        Oh, OK. They didn’t use weapons when they boarded the float. They didn’t actually commit battery in front of millions of witnesses.

        So that makes it OK.

        Thanks for clarifying the Progressive position.

        But,at the same time, you have no reason to complain when people don’t take you seriously for another 10 years.

        BTW, what would have happened if the Google staff had panicked and tried to get them off the float, uncertain as to the true intent of their ‘theater’?

        Want to think about that one for a second?

        • shakeses

          Ew. Don’t call me a progressive. You are so boring!

          I’m not going to entertain your “what ifs”. They’re completely irrelevant. Thanks, but no thanks.

          • Sam

            If you use terms like “symbols of injustice” then you cannot blame people for deeming you to be a so-called “progressive”, even if that term is largely meaningless.

  • Kevin Smith

    Please Tech companies, target Tommi “whats his name” and Sara Short… BUY up their buildings and evict them ! Make Sf a better city !

  • A better city for the rich. Awesome!!!

    • Sam

      So you support diversity except when that concept includes people you personally disapprove of?

      • Sam, what does your reply have to do with anything? And why are you assuming that I said anything in my comment that said distinctly that I “support diversity except when that concept includes people (I) personally disapprove of? Y’all need to pull it together in the rhetoric zone ’cause your skills are sorely lacking.

        Also, you have been using a great set of false equivalencies. Just because your gay neighbors are rich does not mean that all gay people are rich. Just because there’s a Black president doesn’t mean that racism is over. One does not convert to the other.

        Further, I’m not blaming anyone for calling me progressive. I said don’t do it because it’s gross.

        Finally, I get that the middle class and the nouveau riche and the tech rich and the democrats and republicans in this city just want to see economic growth and prosperity – for themselves. However, there is an entire other city that is suffering while your bubble is getting bigger. The school I work in loses an average of 20 families a year to displacement – and this is a low estimate based on the families who disclose why they’re leaving. The city becomes richer and yes, whiter by the month and meanwhile people who don’t fit into those boxes continue to be pushed out. I recognize that it is uncomfortable to look at, but this is what it is.

        If you’re gonna come back with some b.s. rhetoric, at least make it good this time.

        • Sam

          Utter sentimental horsecrap. San Francsico is less white than the nation as a whole so why do you have an issue if it gets slightly more white? Why do you even look at people through racial stereotypes? Have we made no progress in all these years?

          I never said that some gays aren’t poor. What i said is that Tommi, in his aging irrelevance, is trying to turn this into a gay versus straight war, and that is as inappropriate now as it ever was. If you want to support the poor then do so regardless of sexual orientation or race. Stop the card-playing.

          I called you out on seeking to ban the rich from your universe of “diversity” because we are all the same, rich or poor, gay or straight, white or non-white. You are seeking to devalue important discussion to the deplorable over-simplification of identity politics, and it is that which i make no apology for debunking. It is self-defeating to utilize stereotypes in that way.

          • 1) San Francisco is not less white. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

            2) I did not stereotype anyone. Again, you have no idea what you’re even typing.

            3) No one is making this gay vs. straight. To call attention to folks who are impacted by the current economic state of existence is not “card-playing”.

            4) We are not all the same. We do not come from the same places, we do not have the same experiences we do not all have the same opportunities. You are obfuscating the issue with your color-blindness which is, again, totally irrelevant.

            5) I never said anything about diversity. That’s your assumption, not mine. I’m not interested in a tokenized and liberal diversity. I’m into social equity, the abolition of white supremacy from the face of the planet, Black and Brown liberation, the end of patriarchy, and a safe and proud existence for all queer and transgender people the world over. That is waaaay different than “diversity”. But again, I never said that. You made assumptions. And you know what they say about people who ass-ume…

            6) I never called out to ban anyone. Again, that’s you buddy. Try taking a course in close reading perhaps? It might help you understand the world a little better.

          • Sam

            White supremecy? Give me a break.

            The most powerful man in the word is black, as is the wealthiest woman in the nation. We will soon be overtaken economically by a non-white nation – China.

            Until you lose the cheap card-playing and political correctness cliches, you are doomed to irrelevance. The world is not a set of convenient, simplistic self-serving aphorisms.

            Think, man, think.

      • If anyone thinks San Francisco is getting more diverse, they need new contacts.

        • Sam

          Statistically, SF is getting more diverse. The percentage of whites has been declining for decades.

          But of course you need to define what you mean by “diverse” to be sure. Can you describe to us your optimal blend of races and archetypes, so that we can judge for ourselves whether we are as diverse as you need us to be?

        • BP

          Actually, Sam is arguably correct on that one. From 2000-2010, according to census figures, San Francisco’s population increased in % of both Latinos and Asians and decreased in % of whites. The African American population has decreased, but that’s also not the sole measure of diversity.

          • Sam

            Yes, “diversity” is one of those words that people love to throw out without ever defining it.

            At least as far as race is concerned, is it 25% of each of the major races (black, white, Hispanic and Asian?)

            But then many contend that “Hispanic” is not a race but rather a blend of races, and the US census took that view last time around.

            Or is it a “nationally neutral” blend of races? That would be something like 70% white, 15% Hispanic, 10% black and 5% Asian.

            Yet given the way different races tend to self-segregate anyway, does it really matter? The Castro is the gayest neighborhood in Sf but also the most white. does that make it “diverse”? On the face of it, not at all.

            While people claim that the Mission is becoming less “diverse” even while its Hispanic population remains over 50%. Gentrification makes the mission more diverse but you won’t catch a progressive ever admitting that.

  • Dude, you don’t know anything. It’s kind of unfair for me to argue with you. You ARE really dim. Ouch. It must suck not being a critical thinker. Later loser!

  • reyesred

    Where are all of the real goings on at the pride perversion parade? They have learned to hide the sick and perverted antics that take place at hell on earth.