Generally, Camp publishes editorials that are positive and encouraging. But this month, we are frankly asking a question: What is happening to the one group that historically has represented the LGBT community of greater Kansas City - the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Greater Kansas City (LGCC)?
LGCC announced on Facebook that the first organizational meeting for its annual OutFest, usually held in October, would be Aug. 7.
My reaction, and that of others I spoke to, was that beginning to plan an event with such short notice seemed like dooming it to failure. This event sells exhibit tables to organizations and vendors wishing to reach out to the LGBT community and provides entertainment from drag queens and other local entertainers. It's been held at UMKC for the last several years, and before that at Gillham Park, and attendance has been extremely low. (As many may recall, the event was formerly known as "Out in Westport" and held in front of the center's former location on Westport Road.)
I received word from a colleague on Sept. 18 that a friend who had written to LGCC asking about a booth at OutFest was told by a board member of LGCC that the event was canceled this year because LGCC and ShowMe Pride LLC were too involved in the paperwork of a possible merger to focus on OutFest.
That's reasonable, because both projects would be time-consuming. But why did people have to find out about the cancellation of an annual event only by accident? LGCC should have sent out a press release as soon as they knew OutFest would be canceled.
The next day, I sent an email to Rick Bumgardner, president of Show Me Pride LLC, and Michael Kelly, board president of LGCC, asking whether this was true. Kelly called me and confirmed that LGCC and Show Me Pride LLC are looking into the possibility of a merger and that OutFest was canceled. I asked him to send me a media release when they're ready to make the announcement of their merger and told him we would certainly print that information in Camp when it's received.
My point is this: If you're running a 501(c)3 organization like LGCC and the group has nonprofit status based on being a service group, then the group owes it to the public to keep them informed. You don't announce an event and then cancel it without sending out notices. At press time, nothing has been announced on LGCC's website or Facebook page.
If LGCC is representing the LGBT communities of greater Kansas City, that's a potential universe of at least 20,000 people, using a conservative estimate that the LGBT community is at least 1 percent of the 2 million population. We would guess that the percentage is higher than 1 percent.
There is already confusion in the community as to what LGCC is doing because they don't have a physical address and their visibility seems almost non-existent.
Cancelling their biggest event of the year with no notification makes us wonder even more.
People often ask us what the difference is between the LGCC and the LIKEME® Lighthouse center at 39th and Main Streets in Kansas City, Mo. LIKEME® Lighthouse has a staffed office seven days a week, and organizations meet there on a weekly basis. They publish an electronic newsletter and have advertised and sent news releases to Camp. From our perspective, they are taking an active role in trying to reach out to our diverse community.
Camp prints 5,000 copies monthly, and with an estimated pass-along readership of two-to-one in many households with partners or roommates, we're confident our readership is at least 7,500 readers. We can list more immediate information on our website or Facebook page for Camp Kansas City.
If you're running a group whose mission is to reach out to the LGBT community, use the gay press to get the word out. The community deserves to know.

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