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    The 20th Pink Triangle

    pink4By Patrick Carney

    (Editor’s Note: The San Francisco Bay Times congratulates Patrick Carney on receiving San Francisco Pride’s 2015 Gilbert Baker Pride Founder’s Award. San Francisco Pride explains that “the award honors those who have made a significant and historical impact on the LGBTQ community and the movement for LGBTQ rights.” Both Patrick and his husband Hossein are true community treasures. If you can, please consider volunteering for this year’s historic Pink Triangle installation and related efforts. Please also join us in cheering for the Carneys on Pride Sunday, as we gaze at the Pink Triangle on Twin Peaks and contemplate its profound significance.)

    The 20th Pink Triangle is coming the weekend of June 27–28, 2015. How the years fly by!

    The gigantic display is a visible, yet mute, reminder of man’s inhumanity to man. It is almost 200 feet across, one acre in size, and can be seen for 20 miles. The pink triangle was used by the Nazis in concentration camps to identify and shame homosexual prisoners. This symbol, which was used in an attempt to differentiate and persecute, has been embraced by the LGBTQ community as a symbol of pride. It seems the lessons of the Holocaust and the pink triangle have been lost on many. As they say, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” That is why we have our display. It is important to keep alive the memory of all of the Holocaust victims to help educate people to what can happen when hatred goes unchecked. Education is the key.

    It is through this display that we hope to educate others of the lessons of the Pink Triangle, with the primary lesson being: what can happen when hatred and bigotry become law. There are certainly numerous recent examples covered in the media, such as in Uganda, Nigeria, Iran, Jamaica, Brunei and many others. Unfortunately, there are currently 77 countries where homosexual activity is illegal. While it isn’t illegal in Russia anymore, President Putin signed an anti-gay propaganda law. Lawmakers in Kazakhstan have passed similar anti-LGBT propaganda legislation, and their president may soon sign it. There is still much discrimination toward the LGBTQ community.

    The test of any democracy is how well it treats its minorities. The Third Reich demonstrates how easily a government can devise minority scapegoats. During the Holocaust, the Nazis created a whole array of colored triangles to label and distinguish their “undesirables.” Branding homosexuals as criminals let most Germans feel comfortable looking the other way, while the Nazis went about their persecution. This diversionary tactic is now being used in several countries again.

    At the end of the war, when the concentration camps were finally liberated, virtually all of the prisoners were released except for those who wore the pink triangle. Many of those with a pink triangle on their pocket were put in prison, and the nightmare continued.

    To many, the pink triangle is just a brightly colored, graphic image, which has come to represent the gay rights movement, and there is often not a connection to how the symbol came about. We realized its history of hate was forgotten, and wanted to inform people of its significance. The Pink Triangle started out as a renegade crafts project, which went up in the dark of night so we wouldn’t get arrested. It has now grown into something large that has been officially embraced by the city.

    The Pink Triangle display was set on fire in 2009 in an arson hate-crime. If arson of the Pink Triangle can take place in gay-friendly San Francisco, one can imagine what LGBTQs face in less accepting areas.

    There will be a commemoration ceremony on Saturday, June 27, 2015, at 10:30am. Many of San Francisco’s elected officials are expected, as well as most of the Pride Parade’s celebrity Grand Marshals, Community Grand Marshals and Honorees. The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band will be performing as well. The ceremony starts with a telling of the “History of the Pink Triangle.” It is followed by the dignitaries’ remarks, and then the annual champagne christening of the Pink Triangle.

    The giant Pink Triangle doesn’t just float up onto Twin Peaks each year. It takes over 125 volunteers to make the display possible. They climb the hill and install over 175 bright pink canvasses, hammering them to the hill with thousands of 12-inch-long steel spikes. This truly is a community-building project. Plus, it takes 50 people to take it down the next day.

     

    Volunteers Needed!

    Installation: Saturday, June 27, from 7am–10am with ceremony at 10:30am

    De-installation: Sunday, June 28, from 4:30pm–8pm (after the parade) (Even an hour of assistance on either day is a huge help!)

    Please bring a hammer and gloves.

    Wear closed shoes. Sandals are not recommended.

    Wear sunscreen.

    Fashionable Pink Triangle t-shirts will be provided to all who help.

    For information:

    www.thepinktriangle.com