The Delta Foundation meeting took place on Tuesday evening. Reports range from 50-150 people in attendance. Some of the feedback I've heard:
– The Delta Foundation claimed it was the first town hall meeting for Pittsburgh's GLBT community. Surely, that just cannot be the case. I know that Voices for a New Tomorrow held similar meetings and I'm sure that it took a few of those to get the LGBT Community Needs Assessment off the ground. Or back in the day, when the PhoneLine and the GLCC were launched. Am I that blanking on whole chapters of local gay history? I mean this was a really well attended meeting and more power to them for turning out a big crowd, but I'm curious about that claim.
– DF committed to two events: PrideFest and Pride in the Streets. The other events will require others to get involved, which isn't unreasonable per se. So the concept of “Pride Week” is a bit vague unless other groups come forward to set up what are being labeled partner events. It will be interesting to see what grows from this challenge of sorts. (I am going to organize a partner event in my daytime guise and I've already identified some partners so I am putting my money/time where my mouth is on this one.) The DF has a board member dedicated to building these partnerships and she is off to a really good start.
– Again, the issue arose that the board is entirely white and almost nearly gay men with money. So, you have the claim that PrideFest is for everyone balanced against a pretty “business as usual” group of decision makers, however well intentioned. It is going to take a lot of effort on the part of this group to demonstrate a real commitment to diversity. My personal fear is that those on the board are not going to make substantial overtures to under-represented segments of the community, at least not to share power. It would be great if the planning committees are filled with women and persons of color and men and women who are transgendered and bisexual, but it is equally important that power and authority be shared. I hope the Foundation will commit to fill their two vacant board seats with individuals from these communities. That would be a significant statement about inclusivity.
– Luke Ravenstahl is going to hire a part-time liaison to the LGBT community and is accepting applications from the LGBT community to serve on an advisory board. I'm working to track down the contact information to send in your resume. This could be interesting if we can get some community representation on the boards and authorities (beyond the arts.) This could be an interesting development. Again, it would be powerful if the liaison were a lesbian or a woman who is transgendered or someone outside the political normative power structure.
– There's 12 hours of entertainment to fill. I nominate Gab Bonesso. Someone named Kimberly Locke is going to headline at Pride in the Streets. I don't know who she is, but I think she's from American Idol. I'm woefully out of the American Idol loop. I am much more in the local queer talent loop and think Gab Bonesso would be a wonderfulacious emcee for Pridefest — she's young, hip and have proven she can work a family oriented crowd really well.
My impression? They have good intentions and some significant resources. I would personally like to see the organization prioritize diversity and inclusivity among the leadership as well as the rank and file, but I certainly wish them well. It will be interesting to see what happens with the events and if they can take PrideFest to a new level — is the event ready to take that leap?
One caveat. I dislike the rhetoric that builds up the new projects at the expense of those who came before. The GLCC took a bankrupt event and rejuvenated it. The GLCC board attempted to be diverse. The event wasn't perfect, but some of the “dawn of a new gay” rhetoric makes me cringe a bit. The GLCC is still our community center and if it isn't working for us, then we can make some changes (some are underway). I hope we don't toss out the baby with the bathwater in this regard.