Gay 9/11 hero remembered

Mark Bingham was a champion of gay rugby teams

Activists in San Francisco have called on businesses in the Castro district to fly a rainbow flag at half-mast on Sunday, Sept 11 in memory of Mark Bingham, the most famous gay casualty of 9/11.

The flag, at Harvey Milk Plaza, is controlled by the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro, who are divided about whether to use it to honour victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Bingham was one of four men who are believed to have rushed the cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93, forcing hijackers to crash the plane in an empty field in Pennsylvania rather than hit another target in Washington, DC.

Ten years on, members of the San Francisco queer community want to honour Bingham, who played for the San Francisco Fog gay rugby team and was a champion for gay-inclusive rugby clubs.

But some local merchants are unwilling to use the flag as a memorial symbol. It was last lowered on Feb 3 in solidarity with gay Ugandans following the murder of gay activist David Kato in Kampala.

The Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament, or Bingham Cup, is a biennial international gay rugby tournament first held in 2002 as a tribute to Bingham.

Singer Melissa Etheridge, who dedicated her song “Tuesday Morning” to his memory, has also honoured Bingham.

Danny Glenwright was formerly Xtra’s managing editor. He has a background in human rights journalism and media training and a masters in international cooperation and development from Italy’s University of Pavia. Before coming to Xtra, Danny was the editor of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary news service in South Africa and a regular contributor to South Africa’s Mail and Guardian news. He has also worked in Sierra Leone, Palestine, Namibia, the United Kingdom and Rwanda.

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