I Miss When It Felt Good to Be at Persad

I went in for my weekly therapy session today. It is Pride week! I didn’t expect banners or balloons, but I guess I expected some energy and vibes?

Instead, it just felt the same as it has for months – a sad place with anxious folks (staff) dealing with a world that does not appreciate, value, or respect them. Or pay them adequately.

I don’t like sitting in the waiting room these days. I arrive as close to my appt as possible, go in the door to check-in, and then sit quietly with my eyes on my phone. I will write a check out in my car to cover my co-pay so I don’t have to stand at the reception desk too long. I just hand it over, say ‘no receipt, thanks’ and skedaddle.

I do take a second to make sure the AMPLIFY and blog information on the info counter is adequately supplied. Imagine my surprise today to see that both were completely gone! I am impressed to that so many people took a flyer and card since last Wednesday. So I restocked them. I wonder if this volume of engagement will continue? Ahem.

It used to be that I would walk in, chitchat with the front desk, grab a chair, soak up the sun, say hello to staff that I know, look around at the new information on the table and just be grateful that I was in that place in that time with those people. If you follow me on social media, you might recall I used to check-in weekly and post photos (no people, of course) to help resist stigma and encourage people to ask for support.

The clients haven’t changed and it certainly isn’t their obligation to set a tone. It is the staff that mainly seem different. When they walk through, they keep their heads down more. Or they rush and don’t take the time to engage. Or they just look tired. There are rarely boisterous conversations or big hugs accompanying squeals of recognition. No one laughing with the front desk staff. Their energy flow is different.

Because I’m observing, I know this isn’t just them ignoring *me* – it is everyone.

Obviously, I have a bias because I think the Board of Directors sold us all out by elevating a member of the Delta Foundation to the Board Presidency (alongside his partner who is the treasurer) and that their grip on the Executive Director is viciously unproductive and unhealthy. Ahem.

And I’m not at all glad to report that I might have been right back then. We have learned that Persad Center is only vending and sponsoring at the EQT Pride (formerly known as Pittsburgh Pride) and will not have any presence at the People’s Pride. That’s a massive break with previous years when Persad actively supported Roots Pride and People’s Pride to be present for the community and ensure that folks got the information they needed about supports and services.

As I recall, when Roots Pride emerged to resist with and for all of us, Persad’s then-Executive Director convened a staff meeting and they decided collectively how to participate – and I believe the staff wanted to be present at both Prides. And that held true when the first People’s Pride was organized in 2017. I could be remembering that incorrrectly, but I’m pretty sure I remember being impressed that the staff were part of the decision-making process about what was best for the clients, the organization, and the community. If I’m wrong about that, please correct me.

Back then, a lot of people wanted them to walk away from Corporate Pride, but in hindsight – I think they did the right thing for their mission. Except maybe it led to this? I’ll be blogging in more detail about the Pridefests situations next week.

Regardless, this is where we are. As someone bluntly said to me “Persad is Delta’s bitch” … that’s such a harsh ugly and real truth. I wouldn’t normally use the phrasing “someone’s bitch” because it is sexist, violent, and gross but this is something that is happening to me personally, professionally, and as a community member. It feels pretty accurate.

I’m not giving up my therapist, etc. I’m not giving up on Persad. I will fight to protect my healthcare, whether that means fighting UPMC and Delta or the Trump Administration. I will fight for the rights of the employees at Persad, from clinicians to clerks.

With the new Pittsburgh Equality Center location, we are no longer bound to Persad for their conference and meeting space. We have options. We have other offices and studios and venues. New spaces to feel good about a new future.

I’d just like to feel good for a small bit in a queer space.

Through the dustbowl, through the debt
Grandma was a suffragette
Blacklisted for her publication
Blacklisted for my generation

Go go go

Raise your hands
Raise your hands high
Don’t take a seat, don’t stand aside
This time don’t assume anything

Just go go go

Feed the fire, fan the flame
I know you kids can stand the rain
I know the kids are still upsetters
‘Cause rock is cool but the struggle is better

Go go go

Raise your hands
Raise your hands high
Don’t take a seat, don’t stand aside
This time don’t assume anything

Just go go go

Did they tell you it was set in stone
That you’d end up alone
Use your years to psyche you out
You’re too old to care, you’re too young to count

Did they tell you, you would come undone
When you try to touch the sun
Undermine the underground
You’re too old to care, you’re too young to count

Go go go