HRC missed the mark

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Last Saturday night should serve as a lesson to all of us. There were a host of events that you could choose to attend. That in itself is an amazing point. We’ve become such a large community that you could actually be at a Human Rights Campaign fundraising dinner with speaker Chris Matthews of MSNBC at the Marriott, the annual “Shut Up & Dance” event, a gay dance competition at the Convention Center, a country-dance benefit with a performance by a gay cowboy dance group from D.C., the Scene dance party … and that’s just part of the list.

All of these events point out very clearly what an incredible community we have become. It also points out some shortcomings. All of theses events are worthwhile and should be supported, but we each have our limitations. Therefore, it is up to each organization to promote and market their events. Let’s take a look at the first two. Both have long reputations and both are great events that the community can take pride in. But “Shut Up & Dance” takes the prize. Why is that? Several reasons come to mind. First, with so many benefits on one night, we’re spreading the community thin and not all can be a success. In this case, the one that promotes itself the best wins. In that regard, it was “Shut Up & Dance,” which got its message out with invitations, fliers, posters, press releases, contacts by phone and, of course, ads in PGN. The event was almost a sell-out. On the other hand, HRC sent out fewer invites, no press release (at least not to PGN), no press calls and no advertising. Attendance at the dinner was down by 50 percent. There’s another reason this is bad. Matthews, the keynote speaker, is a possible candidate to run against U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter here in Pennsylvania. It would have been great for his message to get out to our community and for him to be seen in the non-gay media at an LGBT event. Don’t get me wrong: I believe the HRC dinner is the most important political dinner in Philadelphia’s LGBT community. I’m only sorry for the lost opportunity.

Last week also saw preparations for upcoming elections. Liberty City had its first candidates night and a great turnout. Steve Glassman held a fundraiser for openly gay Harrisburg City Councilman Dan Miller, who is a candidate for City Controller in that city.

For the more theater-minded, we had the opening of “Happy Days, the Musical.” We love Broadway at the Academy, but this was a clunker. Also opening last weekend was a winner at Society Hill Playhouse, “Say Goodnight Gracie,” about the late comedian George Burns and Gracie Allen. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a sold-out opening. It has a limited 10-week run, so run and see it.

Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He can be reached at [email protected].