Dear God, I’m going to get reamed for focusing on this quote, but seriously …
Melissa Etheridge made her Pridefest debut in Pittsburgh this month and it was apparently a terrific show, but my skepticism was confirmed by a quote she gave to PG music editor Scott Mervis:
She repeated that she played this fest, not ones in LA or New York, because Pittsburgh “showed me the money.” It’s hard to say she didn’t deliver.
Now, I do not hate Pittsburgh Pridefest. I volunteered for three years when I was on the board at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center. I have attended most years – even staffing a booth for a former employer. I was out of town this year so I missed most of the activities, but I did promote them using social media. So let’s be clear – I think Pride is important if not the most important part of Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community. But its not a sacred cow and anyway, my issue is with Melissa Etheridge not Pridefest per se.
I’m a little skeptical about Ms. Etheridge given the terrible way she’s treated her ex-wife Tammy Lynn Michaels. Supporting marriage equality means supporting divorce equality and Melissa is not doing anyone favors by trying to wiggle out of paying Tammy an equitable portion of her net worth. We can party in the streets all we want, but screaming that you support marriage equality while ignoring your marital obligations is bullshit.
Her quote about “show me the money” made me laugh out loud and pretty much confirmed my impression that she’s a rock star first and gay activist probably like 10th or 12th.
Does it matter? Eh, my only concern is that every penny she received is a penny that doesn’t go to the local LGBTQ service providers (I know there was a small fundraiser for Persad, people!) as we face significant slashes to the human services and health budgets by the Corbett Administration.
Are we “priding” beyond our means? Well, probably. It would be interesting if some third party were to research the net worth of Pridefest – how many people register to vote, how many sign up for email lists, how much is raised in donations, how many dogs are adopted, etc. A sociological study, Dr. Lombardi? Measuring the “pride” factor would be difficult – how do you assign a value to the sense of belonging someone feels – I remember my first few Pridefests.
I don’t think the size and wow factor of Pittsburgh’s Pridefest is an indicator of anything substantial. The way we treat the most vulnerable persons in our community is the best indicator of who we are as a community and in the coming months & years, we’ll have ample opportunity to prove we are one of the leading LGBTQ communities, not just a leading Pridefest City.
I gotta give Melissa credit – she lays it out there. And with two ex-wives and four kids to support along with the lack of a recent hit record, she probably needs to be shown the money. But let’s not pretend she’s a crusader. She’s a rock star and that’s just fine.