San Francisco‘s annual Trans March event to kick off Pride festivities on Friday was supposed to be a commemoration of transgender history, titled “Celebrating Our Legacy: We’re Still Here.” But as it turned out, the city’s mayor and supervisor and a Sacramento lawmaker weren’t there as long as they had planned to be, when members of the crowd booed, mooned and heckled them off the stage.
Openly gay state lawmaker, State Sen. Mark Leno, was at first plagued by technical problems with his microphone as he attempted to address the crowd in Dolores Park, then got entangled in a debate with some of the transgender people hollering at him from right in front of the stage, according to Evelyn Rios, a local transgender woman in attendance.
“And why am I a piece of shit?” Leno was heard to ask by Rios, who sat on the lawn surrounding the stage.
“It was cringe-worthy,” Rios told LGBTQ Nation, adding that it was clear Leno chose to engage rather than ignore his hecklers.
Leno was introduced by Human Rights Commission Executive Director Theresa Sparks, a transgender woman appointed last week by Mayor Ed Lee as his senior advisor on transgender initiatives.
After Leno, the city supervisor Scott Wiener and the mayor, who was carrying a proclamation, were supposed to speak, but Leno was still trying to win back control of the crowd, telling them there is a time and place for everything and that this should be a time for unity.
“We may have disagreements with Ed Lee, I’ve got disagreements with Ed Lee, that’s not the point. A mayor had never come to this event before he became mayor,” Leno said, referring to Lee’s historic appearance at Trans March in 2011 and ever since. At this point, a majority of the crowd turned against him, demanding with their boos that he and the others leave.
“Though this has not been a warm welcome or one of respect, I will continue to fight for transgender rights, equality, and the respect that your’re not giving us today,” Leno said, defiantly.
And without saying a word, Mayor Lee was then escorted off the stage, with Leno and Wiener, their heads bowed. Lee was rushed to his car, as the crowd chanted “house keys, not handcuffs,” said Rios. That she said was apparently in response to Wiener’s proposed legislation to criminalize homeless camping on sidewalks in the city. In 2014, it was reported 29 percent of San Francisco’s homeless identified as LGBTQ.