A trio of San Francisco Pride community grand marshals have been announced, with more expected to be named soon.
Judy Dlugacz, the founder and president of Olivia Travel, received the most votes from the public, San Francisco Pride officials said March 6, while #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Alicia Garza was named a grand marshal Tuesday, March 10 by the general membership of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee.
Pride officials also announced that the Transgender Law Center was named organizational grand marshal for the June 27-28 Pride festivities.
After counting and verifying the ballots, SF Pride officials said that Dlugacz garnered 39 percent of the vote from a field of 10 candidates. Pride board Vice President Marsha Levine said the organization received over 7,250 votes, about 350 more than last year.
Rounding out public voting, the anti-gay American Family Association will receive the pink brick, a faux award given to a group that has caused significant harm to the LGBT community, SF Pride officials said.
Dlugacz, a lesbian, has long been involved in the women’s community. She founded Olivia Records in 1973; the company moved to Oakland in 1978. She founded Olivia Travel in 1990. It is now the world’s largest company serving the lesbian community, with cruises and resorts, including riverboat trips, and safaris and other adventures.
In a brief interview Tuesday, Dlugacz said she’s looking forward to Pride.
“I am thrilled to be chosen as a grand marshal for the most important Pride in the country,” she said. “I started going to SF Pride in 1978, the year Olivia Records moved to the Bay Area and released Lesbian Concentrate, an album of artists who came out to make a musical response to Anita Bryant.”
Bryant, at the time a spokeswoman for Florida orange juice, was waging an anti-gay campaign.
“Today we march under the banner of Olivia Travel and celebrate 25 years of creating exclusive vacations for lesbians,” Dlugacz said, adding that Olivia takes over the whole cruise ship or resort for its vacations.
“And throughout this time Pride has been there each year celebrating and marching, showing the world that we will accept no less than our full rights,” she added. “The parade also reaffirms that our community has a strength of commitment to the diversity of our community and an understanding of the preciousness of freedom.”
Dlugacz, 63, divides her time between San Francisco and Washington, D.C., where she also has a residence. She has been recognized by the Golden Gate Business Association, an LGBT chamber of commerce, and honored by Ernst and Young as its northern California Entrepreneur of the Year.
She has combined her entrepreneurial spirit with a commitment to serve the community as a founding partner in the USAID LGBT Global Development Partnership, which was created to support and fund LGBT organizations throughout the developing world, according to a news release from SF Pride.
#BlackLivesMatter co-founder Alicia Garza. Photo: Courtesy Alicia Garza
Dlugacz also helped found the LGBT Haiti Relief fund of the Red Cross, and has supported numerous organizations, including the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Lesbian Community Cancer Project, and the National Organization for Women.
Garza, 34, co-founded #BlackLivesMatter, which began as a hashtag and grew into a national organizing project that is an affirmation and embrace of the resistance and resilience of black people. She works as the special projects director at the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Garza didn’t immediately return a request for comment Wednesday. But when she was nominated last month she said it was an honor to be considered.
“SF Pride can represent the diversity of the community and support broad-based movements of black communities all over the world,” she said.[Updated: Garza responded after the print issue went to press.
“I’m really excited and very honored,” she said, about being selected as a grand marshal.
Garza, who lives in Oakland, has been at the Domestic Workers Alliance for the last two years. Before that, she worked in San Francisco for 10 years at People Organized to Win Employment Rights.]
Organizational grand marshal
The Transgender Law Center, based in Oakland, received the most votes in the organizational grand marshal category. The nonprofit, which grew out of a pilot project of NCLR more than a decade ago, provides legal information to trans people and their families.
It also works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. TLC is also a leading voice in national transgender advocacy and last month announced it would soon enter into a partnership with Atlanta-based Southerners on New Ground so that it can reach people in the South.
Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Also in February TLC saw a leadership change after longtime Executive Director Masen Davis departed. Kris Hayashi, a trans man, was named the new executive director and has been on the job just over a month.
In a statement, Hayashi said the organization was “humbled” by the honor.
“Transgender Law Center is humbled and excited to represent the transgender and gender-nonconforming community at SF Pride this year as the community organizational grand marshal,” Hayashi said. “Our selection reflects the critical moment we are in: 2015 has been a year of unprecedented visibility for the transgender community in everything from media coverage to the president’s State of the Union address.”
But, he added, violence continues to be a major issue.
“It has already been a year of epidemic levels of violence against our community and transgender women of color in particular,” Hayashi said. “We are honored that, at this critical time, the community is recognizing our role and our work to create a world where all people can live as their authentic selves.”
The Mississippi-based American Family Association received the most public votes for the pink brick. The dubious honor will recognize a group that has steadfastly opposed marriage equality and other LGBT rights.
Founded by Donald Wildmon in 1977, the AFA is now led by his son, Tim Wildmon. In November 2010, it was listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for “propagation of known falsehoods” and the use of “demonizing propaganda” against LGBT people, according to Wikipedia.
Representatives from the AFA did not respond to a message seeking comment.