On behalf of the board of directors of Philly Pride, its executive director, our volunteers and board interns, I would like to thank the many and diverse elements of our community for coming together and putting forth one of the best PrideDays in recent history. The weather was great; the enthusiasm unbridled; the political participation unprecedented; parade contingents colorful; and festival multidimensional.
All of this was with the backdrop of recession, which cut participation and sponsorship, and the body blow from the city charging us for police coverage. It was an epic struggle, but it happened anyway. And it was spectacular. Our community is just awesome.
There were a few letters to PGN, written by a “PrideGuy” and a “PhillyFan,” criticizing elements of PrideDay. To them I say, “Get involved.” The 10 of us who organize this event in June and Outfest in October are mere facilitators and, trust me, we are overworked and underpaid. It is the community who puts forth their floats, entertainment, marching contingents, etc. If PrideGuy thinks the parade needs improvement, then he should get involved with a group and make it better. It is, after all, the community that makes the parade entries, not the Philly Pride organization. PhillyFan doesn’t even want us to have a parade, as it can’t equal the parade in Washington, D.C., or New York. PhillyFan doesn’t grasp the concept of the parade, which is visibility for the gay community. Parades in Philadelphia prove to the world that there are gays in Philadelphia, not just in New York or D.C.
The reality is that PrideDay is a remarkably expensive undertaking in a poor economic environment. Governmental largesse is a thing of the past and there are staggering bills from the police department, for entertainment and for Penn’s Landing. All indications are that it will be getting worse. We recently put forth the proposal to the Equality Forum that it move its sequence of events to June to culminate in our Parade and Festival. For Equality Forum to be staggered with police costs a short month before PrideDay makes no sense and puts additional strain on a community already beset with financial burdens. Many of our common vendors and community groups will not be able to continue participation in both events.
It is well past the time that Equality Forum and the PrideDay Parade and Festival be coordinated. We ask the community to make its voice heard as the Equality Forum’s board takes up the proposal.
Chuck Volz is senior advisor for Philly Pride Presents.