SpeakOut - Pride Responds to Criticism of P&L Events

Dear Friends:
We thought it best today to address concerns regarding the Power & Light District Pride event.
First, we would like to share with the entire community our mission statement, which reads:
The mission of Show Me Pride is to Partner, Respect, Inspire, Develop and Educate our community promoting LGBT diversity and civil liberties locally and globally.
With the help of a group of tireless volunteers, we have reached out since last year’s Pride to as many of our organizations as we could to glean feedback and requested changes for Pride 2010. In addition, we conducted a comprehensive survey — with nearly 400 respondents over 75 days — that asked pointed questions about each of our events, exhibitors, sponsors, and other relevant topics.
Taking into account these responses, as well as social, fiscal, and liability issues, it was clear that the traditional Friday night event had to change. As a result, we started a venue search committee to look at locations, activities and ways to bring Friday’s kick-off Pride event in line with our mission statement and make it more dynamic than the “party held in the street” — as so many of the leaders of our organizations and respondents indicated it had become.
Several venues were considered. By far the best offer came from the Power & Light District. The District came to us with a proposal that would eliminate fiscal concerns and considerable liability issues – and one that allowed us to fully realize every aspect of the mission statement above. Not one other venue provided all that the District event offered.
We now have the opportunity to partner with an organization for the first time in many years that will take our entire community into the heart of the city and provide high-profile recognition for who we are. It gives us the chance to garner respect for being the amazing individuals we all are and to show our respect to an organization that recognized how meaningful a great Pride event can be by offering the space and all associated costs free of charge to our organization.
In the new venue, we will have access to technology and facilities (such as JumboTrons, stage, lighting and facilities with covered spaces) that will produce moments for our community never before offered by any Pride organization. I guarantee that it will inspire not only our community, but our straight allies as well. We get the chance to develop a working relationship between two organizations that would advance human rights in our city and inspire others to do the same. And finally, we get to educate our community and our city about who the LGBT community is — what we mean to our society...to our nation...and to our world.
After again consulting key organizations and leaders within our community and considering the Pride mission and objectives, we decided to accept the Power & Light offer, as it seemed the clear choice by the majority.
Every decision has pros and cons. Unfortunately, the negativity espoused by groups opposed to this venue has gone from constructive criticism to a hurtful and destructive tone.
It has never been our agenda — nor will it be — to do an event that will discriminate against any member of our community or partner with any organization that does. We have not seen any prejudice against the LGBT community by the Power & Light District. To the contrary, they have hosted Bloom and BeerFest for KC Free Health Clinic, the AIDS Bicycle Challenge, and now our Power the Light with Pride (not to mention NAACP events on the calendar for this summer).
It is not our agenda, nor will it ever be, to partner with anyone simply to gain financially without knowing that they support and advance our civil and human rights as individuals and as a community. Power & Light has demonstrated their financial commitment to us and to our community by donating the space, the technical elements, the security, and the administrative efforts to sponsor and host this event, while welcoming the members of our community to express our individuality.
When we sought the Rev. Kurt Krieger’s guidance on how to handle this issue, he aptly pointed out that we all have paths to take. We invite protesters of Pride’s Power & Light event to join us on our path and to understand that we are doing everything we can to advance your voice, your rights, your future. We understand that you may not be able to do that – but we want to point out that our organization would never try to unite any aspect of our community to protest you ... your cause .... your organizational structure ... or your beliefs. Such action is divisive and hurts the overall efforts of the LGBT community.
We took the time to meet with leaders of your protest for an entire afternoon and to provide acceptable compromises and prompt responses to your questions. Then we were blindsided by the Facebook page (Protest Kansas City Pride at Power & Light District!) that was created to protest not only the venue, but our organization as well. We offered a meeting between your leaders and P&L, only asking for them to provide meeting time options that worked for THEM, and as of this letter there has been no response.
We have the written support of several LGBT organizations and statements of support from leaders within those organizations regarding our efforts this year – including plans for this event. We hope you’ll join them — and us — in trying to show Kansas City the united force we can be. If not, we understand. You are on your path and we are on ours.
We look forward to seeing everyone at the Power & Light District on Friday night, June 4, for “Power the Light with Pride,” which is sure to be an amazing event. Entertainment will include the likes of Kansas City’s own Kristie Stremel, The Transients, The Bar-B-Q’s, international sensation La Roux, our very own nationally recognized DJ Jerry Griffith, as well as remarks by Gilbert Baker, native Kansan and creator of the rainbow flag, and videos of well-wishers from local, national, and international venues. We’ve planned an evening that shows Kansas City just what a celebration of LGBT diversity is all about.
The rest of Pride week is equally exciting, and we are eager to bring you each and every event. Join us that week — May 31-June 6 — for:
• The Graffiti T-Dance,
• The Military Memorial,
• The premiere screening of Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride,
• An art exhibit, In Hate We Trust, in cooperation with KCAVP,
• Our first-ever lesbian party,
• Educational symposiums,
• Interfaith services,
• Quilt Dinner with OutMusic award-winner Nhojj (whose video has been No. 1 on MTV’s most-watched videos),
• The festival itself, at Penn Valley Park on June 5-6, with many new and revived activities, including a KidZone (complete with inflatables, toys, and a performance by Happy Faces Entertainment), the return of the mechanical bull and the MGRA,
• Our first-ever Gay Volleyball tournament,
• Competitions by bartenders and drag queens, and local, regional, and national entertainment,
• The return of your parade on Sunday.
We are working endlessly to give you a festival that encompasses all you asked for with respect to all aspects of our community.
Please visit our website at www.gaypridekc.com and click on Festival Week for all the latest information, updated daily. You can also find our Facebook page at Pride Kansas City or follow us on Twitter @gaypridekc.
We invite you to attend our next meeting at 7 p.m. May 5 at Spirit of Hope MCC Church, 3801 Wyandotte.
We look forward to bringing you the 32nd annual Show Me Pride Festival and can’t wait to see you at one or all of the events.
Thank you!
Rick Bumgardner, Pride president
Josh Krueger, vice president
Matt Snyder, treasurer
Amanda Schuster, secretary
and the rest of the
Show Me Pride Board

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