City Paper on PrideFest or not

The CP sent Jared Trent Stonesifer to cover Pride.  In this article, he discussed the evening block party (Pride in the Streets), the Awareness March, the Pride Theatrer Festival and the Warhol exhibit on queer black life in the 30's and 40's. 

Notice anything missing?

Yep, he forgot to cover the actual festival (PrideFest).  The space filler between the march and the block party.  Big stage, dozens of vendors, throngs of people numbering in the thousands.  People with kids making crafts.  People with lovers making out.  Gay people EVERYWHERE. 

Granted, I myself said it was a nice event, but relatively uneventful.  Still, I did mention it.  Not so much Mr. Stonesifer.  What's up with that?

Here's a great example of why focusing on the block party alone does not do justice to our community.  You get folks like this:

Partners Keith Parker and Bob Paraschak called Pittsburgh's gay community “horrible and unorganized,” a label that people like Schneck are trying to get rid of by hosting larger and more organized events like Pride in the Street. “It's a 'don't ask, don't tell' mentality in Pittsburgh,” Paraschak said. “It's not that people here aren't open; they just don't participate.”

Wow.  Keith and Bob are pretty harsh.  Even I don't go that far.  And it is patently not true.  PrideFest is a huge event and very well organized, primarily because it is coordinated by the Gay & Lesbian Community Center.  An organization much lacking in horribleness.   Then there's the film festival, the assorted sports leagues, the health providers, the queer arts scene … the list of well-organized, cool events is pretty lengthy.  Last time I checked, lots of people were participating in those events. So my quibble here is with Keith and Bob.

Or this

Mack feels that a close-minded attitude is still prevalent in Pittsburgh, but events like Pride in the Street are providing a brighter future for the gay community in the city.

“Pittsburgh pride grew up tonight,” Mack said. “Parties like this stimulate people to come out of their closet and celebrate. This is a great party, and hopefully it will get better every year.”

That's really sad.  A block party provides a brighter future?  What about PrideFest?  What about … ah, shucks.  Why bother?  People quoted in this article aren't attending Steel City Stonewall Meetings.  They aren't volunteering with GLENDA.  They aren't bowling or square dancing.  They go to bars.  So a giant bar in the middle of Liberty Avenue complete with Bruce Villance in the middle square is their idea of progress.  Sigh. It is too sad to even get worked up about any longer. 

It was a lackluster article.  I miss Marty Levine. 

ps:  the article does quote this blog.  It doesn't really make sense since I wrote specifically about the festival and the article didn't mention the festival, but what can you do …

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  • Perhaps Mr. Stonesifer did not mention the “actual festival (PrideFest)” because, as you said, “it was a nice event, but relatively uneventful.” What's newsworthy about that?
    Pride in the Street was a first in that a gay organization shut down a downtown street and created possibly the largest dance party this city's ever seen. It was a social gathering, a social event, something akin to the Burning Man Fefstival (I'm saying in spirit, not size and scope). It's something that creates community and visibility for the community.
    I'm not saying there's anything wrong with “the actual festival” on the North Shore. I think both are important and necessary. What happened with Pride in the Street is that Pittsburgh finally got the other half of a pride celebration that we were missing.
    And finally, not to be argumentative, but who died and made the GLCC the boss? Who says their festival is the “official” pride festival. I didn't vote for them. Why wasn't Pride in the Street the “official” celebration? Or why can't there be several parts to the “official” celebration?

  • I disagree. The festival was worth a mention along with the march and the theater festival. You can raise the roof all you want about dance parties, but you aren't going to convince me that it creates community or visibility. Or at least the kind that represents most queer people.
    My understanding is that the two events were careful to say there was no official relationship. Who made that decision or why is a mystery to me.
    If you knew your Pride history, you would know that someone drvoe the actual organization into bankruptcy by planning a lavish situation that they couldn't pay for. The GLCC saved PrideFest by taking it on as a service to the community. It has taken years to get the event back on its feet financially. So before you disparage their role, you should thank them for that. After all, it made the party possible, right? As for them both being part of the official activities, why not? That's something for the leaders of both to work out.
    I'd have no objection. I want the celebration of Pride to grow. My personal opinion is that the street party is not about visibility or community. It is not a street festival. It is a street party. Perhaps it will grow, too.

  • Interesting that the majority of the people using “visibility” to defend the street party are posting anonymously or using a pseudonym. What kind of Pride is that?

  • I was disappointed in the City Paper article, too. I think we have a pretty good gay community in this town, and I think 95 percent of gay people do not go to bars. The people they interviewed, I think, may not do anything else, so they aren't aware of all the other 100+ gay organizations in this town that they can get involved in. My partner and I did go to the Pride in the Streets to check it out and it was very nice. We haven't been out that late in years. We also like to go to the Pride Festival and the parade. I think there is room for all events, and the more the better, in my opinion. The GLCC has done a fantastic job with PrideFest, and the location has drawn thousands of people in the last few years. It gets bigger and better every year. People who gripe about things should get out and get more involved if they want to change things.

  • When I first read the article, my first thought was our discussion about how the street party was important to PrideFest, as I still agree it was important, I did not then, or do now believe it was more important that the festival itself. I was very disappointed as I read further , like you mentioned, the theater festival, the movie’s showing @ Southside works, or the pride festival itself was not mentioned. Even if they quoted you saying it was uneventful, there was no mention of how many people attended, they did however mention the street party’s attendance. They mentioned this was a huge deal for the gay community, I can agree with that because of course, the young gay community parties like its 1999 and there is a big hype on what other cities do. I know in past year people have gone to other cities to celebrate because they felt Pittsburgh’s wasn’t that big-a-deal, this year people chose to stay to see if Pittsburgh can “compete” I believe it is all in the eyes of who is speaking, one person might think the festival was a waste of time, one might thing the street party was, I however believe that whatever pride week brings to the city , is more than we have had in the past and is good for the community.
    Kudos to the GLCC for the pride festival and the same to the street party committee, each of these events were important to someone.

  • A friend directed me to this exchange and having read it, I feel compelled to join in…
    My name is Peter Karlovich. My partner Steve and I were part of the organization committee involved with the Pride in the Street event (also the Splash event which occurred on the prior Thursday).
    In general, I just want to say that there is LOTS of room for improvement in Pittsburgh's gay community. There is nothing wrong with the GLCC's Pridefest, though it does lack some excitement (if that's because they've taken a conservative approach due to past money problems, then so be it). I do believe it is a necessary and integral part of the pride celebrations that can and must occur.
    All we were trying to do with Pride in the Street was to create a counterbalance. As your one poster said (under the “Guess what Luke Ravenstahl said at PrideFest” entry), I have heard time and time again, that “this town is boring” or “there's nothing to do here.” We're trying to change that. Family events are fine, but most young gays aren't interested in families; they're interested in some fun.
    As for the visibility comments, just as with Pridefest, Pride in the Street had a healthy mix of gay, lesbian AND straight folks (at one point we had 2 lines of mostly heteros lined up from Smithfield to Seventh Ave. waiting to get in). Now, even today, many heteros claim to not know any gay people. In my opinion, for heteros and gays to be mixing in a party atmosphere, where the heteros can see that we're just ordinary people, I think goes a long way toward building a tolerance for each other, more so than if we were demonstrating on a street corner with a bull horn shouting about gay rights. That turns people off. Partying together brings people closer. Plus, to see boys kissing boys and girls kissing girls, especially in a fun atmosphere where a bit of alcohol has helped to relax any anxieties or “fear of something different” the heteros might have, helps to build tolerance too. Anyway, that's my opinion.
    Finally, we've received dozens of thank you cards about the event. I'd like to share just this one with you that I just received today:

    My friend Rose told me you guys were responsible for “Pride in the Streets.” As a lesbian who moved here from Montreal, I can only say THANK YOU for giving Pittsburgh a much-needed dose of gay fun. Keep up the good work, and maybe I can help out next year.

    The writer included their business card from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where she is a Ph.D. and Post-Doctoral Fellow. I expect she will tell her friends back in Montreal about the event, as well as other people she meets from around the world. I would suggest that THIS is the kind of thing we need to do to strengthen and expand the gay community here.
    To conclude, I didn't take the postings to be particularly negative (though they seemd to start out that way). It just seemed that there was a bit of fighting amongst ourselves about whose event or which activity was better or more important. We need to stop fighting amongst ourselves and all work together to make Pittsburgh and our gay community great. I liked George's closing comment that “each of these events were important to someone.” That's true and we should all work to make them all better and better.
    Thanks for your attention. Sorry for rambling!
    P.S. In response to Sue's original post above, while we DO go to bars and we DON'T square dance, we DO give lots of money to Steel City Stonewall, we HAVE hosted one and attended several GLENDA Dining for Diversity events, and are on the board of several local gay health and well being organizations.

  • Ok, I'm replying to myself here, and I don't want to beat a dead horse, but I just opened another letter and wanted to share it with you…

    Dear Steven & Peter,
    It is the Monday after Pride and I felt compelled to write to you to say THANK YOU for providing Pittsburgh with an amazing Pride in the Streets event. I attended the event with 8 other lesbians ranging in age from 32-52. We were all so impressed by how organized, fun and Prideful the event was! It was great to drink & dance & socialize in the streets! We can't wait for next year! Thanks again.

    I think there's a pent-up demand for events like this in the city and if we had more of them it would get more people energized and into the other events and activities that have been mentioned…

  • Before I start: No one seems to have mentioned the women's dance on Friday.
    I literally need more than one hand to count the number of men I personally know who have had sex at that house on Mt Wash, including that night. While that's not my scene and I see nothing inherently wrong with it, you must remember that pride is a historically-based civil rights event, not Club Pittsburgh.
    Have a party whenever. Lesbians in this town now have two monthly parties (Sappho and Pink Party) and the yearly Celebrate The Night. Do we need more “parties”?, probably not if we had an actual dance club with a decent size dance floor. When the same few white boys own all the bars, that's what you get (or rather, don't get), I guess.
    Visibility schmisibility, the straights that show up are already allies, they come because their queer friends told them. Maybe a rich, white male who is used to buying everything and everyone he wants might not understand this, but someone getting drunk with you is not some triumph of diversity, it's a triumph of marketing, alcohol and capitalism that doesn't follow them to the polls. In other words, assimilation breeds apathy; gives the impression everything is a-ok. You and your money know it's not, right?

  • Why do you hate me so much? What have I done to to hurt you? You are more than welcome (and within your rights) to buy a bar, own a club, build a house, etc. Why pick on me because I have done those things? Why don't you do it too. I just don't get the jealousy. Especially within our own community. Are you trying to divide us? I'm only trying to help everyone. Have I hurt you? If so, PLEASE let me know how. If so, I will try as hard as I can to not hurt you in the future.
    Also BTW, you say PRIDE is a “civil rights event, not Club Pittsburgh.” So, what exactly does that mean? Does it mean Gay Pride is about flower arranging? Or marching holding hands? Or does GAY pride mean having sex with the same sex? I guess I'm just a bit confused. It seems we've forgotten that homoSEXuality is all about SEX. HomoSEXuality is not about anything else. You seem to have a problem with gay people having SEX. If being gay isn't about SEX, then what's it about???

  • I do not understand why we are criticizing each other and how we decide to celebrate our very own lifestyle. We all have one thing in common our sexual partners are the same sex as us. That is it. There are still many other lifestyles within our own community. Who are you, or anyone else to say what is the right way or the wrong way of celebrating our life? If you want to have sex with 10 people in a house on the Hill, who am I to judge? I would not partake in it, but if you are not hurting others in the process, get your groove on.
    If you decide to wear drag and walk down the streets Pittsburgh and are not hurting anyone , who am I to judge? I would not do it but if you are not hurting anyone, you go girl.
    What makes this world so very interesting is that we are all not sheep following the herd. We do not all have to do the same thing, live the same lifestyle or celebrate the same way. This is about being who we are, yet still within our own selves, have hatred toward the people we are trying to protect. It is the American Gay Dream to live how we want without the world telling us we are wrong, to live without being judged. To be able to celebrate our life and our love the way we want to. Not the way someone else thinks we should.

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