Big Gay Meeting: What Happened?

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.

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– 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.


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  • Just to clarify a few things:
    “Voices” was given credit at the meeting last night as another meeting of the GLBT Leaders.
    There were 152 people in attendance representing 42 different GLBT groups….From Softball, GLCC, Lambda Foundation to Naked Yoga and different student groups. Very diverse crowd.
    The board presently has 7 members, 1 is a Lesbian, and you state they all “have” money. Well I don't know that I would classify all of us that way…including myself. The new by-laws were adopted yesterday that allows up to 9 members of the board. We are excited that we have had over 10+ people interested in being on the Delta Board. The board will meet next week and start to put a process into place to fill those vacancies. As I have stated before we are committed to continuing to make sure all of the community is represented.
    Mayor Ravenstahl has committed to a GLBT liaison. Details of this are still being worked out but it will probably be someone in the administration that also fills this role as opposed to a new position.
    The GLCC is a partner organization. They are also a benefactor of the event. They have chose to focus on being a center and not drain the resources they have with PrideFest.
    Thanks for allowing me to fill-in the gaps. We the Delta Foundation are excited and look forward to the BIGGEST and BEST pride ever!

  • I know it must be difficult to report about a function you did not attend and rely on others to give you the information you need to continue to blog about the community, I would suggest perhaps going right to the source if you want the correct information.
    With that I would like to add a few more things Gary did not touch on that perhaps you have gotten the wrong impression about.
    The Delta Foundation is producing Pride in the Streets. Jeff Freeman and the Pridefest committee has produced pride for the last 5 years and are again producing Pridefest the event on Sunday this year as well.
    The Delta Foundation is coordinating the other week long events, this means we are working with the community and other organizations to make sure there is something to do for everyone. Some of the Delta Foundation Board also worked very hard to produce all of the forms needed for sponsorship to the week long events as well as volunteers forms etc. needed to achieve the goals we have set for this years Pride. As I told you in the email response to your question yesterday, The Pride Week is a community event and not specific to one organization. We are not requiring anyone to be involved in anything they do not want to get involved in, but we see this as an opportunity for other organization that perhaps do not have the means to produce or “put on” an activity for their specific audience. I have had a lot of feedback from the community in just one day and can tell you everyone at the meeting felt this is a great opportunity to have everyone involved in Pride this year.
    I know you are concerned about who is on the Board of the Delta Foundation, since you have not attended any events we have had nor attended any of our meetings I wanted to tell you some things about The Delta Foundation. We have a large number of young people on our committee; we also have a straight couple on our committee. We have opened up the door to anyone who wanted to come and join and have asked others to just come to one meeting and see if you would like to be involved. We have never turned anyone away that wanted to be involved with the Delta Foundation, nor will we in the future. We also announced at the meeting there were two empty seats and anyone interested should contact a board member, and as Gary told you he has received 10 requests and I have received a few as well. We can not go out and tell people they need to be on the board so we can be diverse, we need people to actually be interested for good of the cause.
    As far as entertainment is concerned, I know you are on the Queer Events Mailing list and I have sent out all of the forms needed. Please feel free to nominate anyone you like.
    You have said some kind thing about The Delta Foundation in this update and I thank you for that. However I still sense a bit of skepticism in your tone. Of course Tone can not be accurate on –line. Perhaps one day you will enjoy one of our events and talk to us in person.

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