Pride Perseveres, Despite Obstacles

***Editor's Note: The print version of the June/July issue of Camp incorrectly stated how the protesters responded to an invitation to meet with representatives of Show Me Pride and the Cordish Co. about the dress-code issue. Representatives of the protest did attend the meeting. Wick Thomas, one of the protesters, said the group hopes to participate in the P&L District dress code advisory council. Camp regrets the error.***
This issue marks the first time Camp has done a combined June/July issue. We published our PrideGuide shortly after the May issue, so we decided that a separate June issue directly after the PrideGuide would have been overkill.
Speaking of Pride, Camp celebrates the successful Pride Festival in photos on pages 12 and 13 of this issue. For more photos, check out Camp Kansas City on Facebook. We have many more photo albums online, and we might publish additional Pride photos in our August issue as well.
The annual festival was June 4-6, but Pride also included activities such as educational symposiums, the annual Interfaith Service, Dress to Impress and the AIDS Memorial Quilt before the weekend festival.
Running a Pride festival takes a phenomenal amount of work and dedication. In 32 years of Pride festivals in Kansas City, there have been almost as many organizations taking a turn at managing the event. Ironically, when past presidents were brought on stage at this year’s Pride Festival, only three presidents including the current president were available. Where were the organizers of the last several decades of Pride? Don’t ask. It’s not a pretty legacy. Past Gay Pride organizations in Kansas City had allegations of theft, improper money management and annual losses of tens of thousands of dollars.
The Pride organizations of the last several years have tried to correct past wrongs, and from what we can see, they are on the right track. Not paying bills for a Pride festival should not be an option, yet it seemed to be the norm for many Pride festivals of the past.
The Show Me Pride organization managing the 2010 Pride festival was focused on having a great celebration without losing touch with the bottom line. Essentially, they ran Pride like a business, and for that they received criticism by a few detractors. Pride charged a modest admission for the first time in years, but most people felt OK with the fact that you can’t put on a $200,000 or $300,000 event for free.
When Pride organizers announced that they would move the Friday night event, which had been known as StreetBlast, from 19th and Main to the Power & Light “Live” Entertainment District, they were met by criticism and protest by a few people who felt that the P&L District had a legacy of discriminatory dress codes.
The protesters succeeded in raising the question of whether it was appropriate to hold a Pride festival at the Power & Light District. In the end Pride decided to hold the event at the P&L for a few reasons. The main reason was that any concerns of discrimination were in the past. The P&L district has since relaxed the dress code. Secondly, it was a huge financial and logistical advantage to hold the Friday night event at the P&L. Pride did not have to petition merchants along Main Street to allow Pride to block off the street on a Friday night, or go through the extravagance of building a stage for a four-hour event. They didn’t have to hire police or dedicate their volunteers to manage the event.
The P&L saved Pride thousands of dollars while providing a state-of-the-art sound and video system and allowing the volunteers working 16-hour days during Saturday and Sunday’s events to have far fewer duties on Friday night for the first time in years. Although the opponents of the move said their protest was targeted at the Power & Light District, a few of them aimed their protest more at the Pride Festival, with signs such as “Profit over Pride.” The Power the Light With Pride event was packed with people enjoying themselves, and it was clearly a win-win for Pride.
Show Me Pride also had to deal with a nightmare element that no event organizer would ever want — changing locations for the Pride Festival barely two weeks before the event. The planned location — Penn Valley Park — was made unusable by the rains during the May Rockfest. The park had become a sea of mud. Pride organizers suddenly had to compress months of work into two weeks as they found a new location — Richard Berkley Riverfront Park — and made the necessary preparations.
Most people I talked to felt that the Riverfront Park was a great new location.
Moving to a new venue with such little notice meant that there was not enough time to secure the permits and approvals necessary for the Pride Parade, which would have been on Sunday. Then again, there hasn’t been a Pride parade in years, so it wasn’t like this was something unusual. Still, the organizers of Pride managed to hold a Pride march of well over a mile on Sunday morning to the Pride Festival, led by Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow Pride flag.
Congratulations to Rick Bumgardner and the entire board of Show Me Pride, the incredibly hard-working volunteers and all who attended Pride this year and gave your support.

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