Is Cancelling Three Rivers Regatta Karma for Accepting Chick-fil-A Sponsorship for Pittsburgh Marathon?

I am convinced this is true.

Today, Pittsburgh announced that the Three Rivers Regatta has been cancelled for 2019.

LionHeart had been giving regular updates to the regatta’s board on the state of sponsorships and
financial transactions related to the event. Late last week, the board learned for the first time that LionHeart
had misrepresented the status of payments and insurance related to the event and had not met critical
benchmarks to ensure it could go forward.

So, that’s cruddy news and really poor oversight on the part of the Regatta board. But it is not the worst thing to happen in the world, not even a little bit.

My first thought was “Karma is a bitch” – a little bit of what Pittsburgh deserves for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from Chick-fil-A to subsidize the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon?

My second though was still “Karma is a bitch” – and wondering why there are such massive disconnects between organizers of these huge events and the actual values of the City (and County to a lesser extent) government? The Marathon, Corporate Pride, the Regatta (same group runs the Fourth of July) and even the Picklesburgh event that was just too damn big for the bridge it occupied?

The City special events folks need to dive deep into these strange quasi-public event relationship oversight groups and figure out what’s going off the rails.

There’s been multiple concerns raised that the City is not adequately prepared to support the needs of young people who attend big public events. I’ve caught many social media touts asking for the City to work more closely with existing youth programs to be proactive and reduce the risk of friction. Some would say we need MORE police presence to keep out the young Black youth and that’s a horrifying position. We need MORE robust engagement of young people and community events that are welcoming and inclusive to everyone, not just white suburban folks who come down a few times a year.

I haven’t caught wind of the City or anyone actually responding to these offers by leaders of youth programs.

Making events more white and more cishet is not the answer. But that’s where we are heading. The City has lost ground in this regard and needs to do some serious reevaluation.

A few weeks ago, someone asked me if the big free dental clinic at PPF Paints Arena was LGBTQ friendly. So I reached out to them and asked. I could find not a single iota of information on their event page. I did find a list of their sponsors that included Peace, Love, and Little Donuts. Sigh.

The Mission of Mercy Dental folks just ignored me after awhile. I asked them if they would guarantee to ask people about their pronouns and real names, if they needed legal names for any reason, if they were trained in some very simple “how-to-LGBTQ-101” etiquette. All they told me is that legal names would not be required nor would any ID be required. That’s something, I guess. But why are we still settling for scraps?

All of this makes me more convinced that we LGBTQ folx need a City wide LGBTQ office to represent our communty in ALL of these conversations. As do other communities in the City who are clearly not at these tables. It is not okay to pull out a big cushy seat for hateful sponsors and disregard the people who live here. Or disregard people in favor of corporations, period.

The City may need to reign in some of these events. If Corporate Pride was truly “too large” for Liberty Avenue, I fully expect Picklesburgh to be moved elsewhere next year lest we prioritize cukes over queers. The City’s board member to the Marathon, Guy Costa, retired so I hope a robust and pushy replacement will go in and have some frank conversations about the Chick-fil-A situation.

Seriously, karma.

In an interview, Culture Club frontman Boy George explained: “The song is about the terrible fear of alienation that people have, the fear of standing up for one thing. It’s about trying to suck up to everybody.


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