More controversy brewing over the Castro's iconic rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza this week as local activists push for a September 11th memorial for Mark Bingham. Bingham, you may recall, is remembered as a prominent LGBT community member and one of the passengers who died that day on United Flight 93 originally headed from Newark airport to SFO. The flag has been the subject of some disputes in the past few months as the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro group that currently controls it have been reluctant to use it as a memorial symbol.
Yesterday blogger/activist Michael Petrelis, the biggest proponent of putting control of the flag's altitude in the hands of Castro citizens and community members, called on MUMC to arrange for an 9/11 half-masting of the rainbow flag to honor Bingham (and indeed, many others) on the tenth anniversary of his death. Petrelis explains:
A request has been submitted to Steve Adams, the president of the Sterling Bank in the Castro and the head of the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro who controls the public flag at Harvey Milk Plaza, to lower the flag all day and evening on Sunday, September 11, 2011, to honor all those who were killed on that date ten-years ago and especially gay hero Mark Bingham.
Even though the plaza is city property, the rainbow flag and pole are illegitimately controlled by MUMC, a private group that refuses to either share control or maintain a transparent request process for lowerings.
In addition to Petrelis, Castro activist and prominent local photographer Bill Wilson, has also penned a letter asking MUMC's Board of Directors to honor the 9/11 anniversary with the Castro flag. Here's the heart of Wilson's letter:
I am writing to request that as the world takes note of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on our nation, we honor the lives of those people lost by the lowering of the rainbow flag, specifically in honor of Mark Bingham. I can think of no one more "widely recognized as a local LGBT hero" than Mark. Rather than recite the story of Mark's heroism I would ask anyone not familiar with the story to take the time to read the memorial plaque on the gymnasium in the recreation center where you hold your monthly meetings.
I hope that you would consider my request at your monthly meeting on September 1
The last time the flag was lowered in memoriam was for an hour on February 3rd as a show of solidarity with gay citizens of Uganda. There was a flap last month over whether the flagpole could raise an a New York State flag in celebration of that state's passage of gay marriage and prior to that a big to-do when the flag didn't come down to honor the passing of Elizabeth Taylor.