NO NYC Pride. Do You Care?

HOP

CORRECTION: READ THIS STORY FIRST! 

Apparently the NYC Heritage of Pride Festival, the largest and most known of NYC’s many LGBT Pride celebrations, has decided to cancel the Pride event, due NYC denying the HOP their permit.

For those of you unfamiliar with NYC Pride, it’s basically three parts. One is the march down 5th avenue through the West Village, which mostly consists of floats of local politicos, organizations, and LOTS of corporate sponsors. Then there’s the street festival with vendors on Washington in the Vill. Last, there’s the pier party, which is filled with a bunch of white Chelsea queens high on drugs, while some corny HiNRG DJ spins whack remixes, and a surprise guest performance, usually a Black woman (past performers have been Janet Jackson, Angie Stone, and Whitney “Hell-to-the-naw” Houston.

Well, HOP They tried to move the festival from the third Sunday to Saturday. Citing the overcrowded narrow streets in the Village, they also wanted to move the street festival from Washington St in the West Village to 8th Ave between 14th and 23rd St in Chelsea. So the city denied the permit. I know from personal experience that getting a permit for a march, parade, or to do anything but sit on a park bench in NYC is the slowest and most aggravating process. According to their website, they are still trying to pursue getting a permit, but I got this from the Brooklyn Pride Myspace posting, saying that HOP is cancelling Pride altogher. But they mention some other issues going on with Pride.

Given an ultimatum by The Mayor’s Office that PF would only be given a permit for Sunday, June 24th for Washington Street in the West Village (i.e. the day of the LGBT Pride March), HOP had no other choice but to cancel PF for the following reasons:

* PUBLIC SAFETY: Hundreds of thousands of people already at PF, and arriving from the March should not be crammed into the narrow, potholed and unevenly paved Washington street (and tiny side streets) of the West Village. It is only a matter of time before something sets off a stampede that will seriously injure many people.

* ACCESSIBILITY for SENIORS, DISABLED & PARENTS w/ SMALL CHILDREN: PRIDE events should be welcoming to everyone in our community. A massively overcrowded event is a major deterrent to participation by these LGBT communities in particular. Even if the streets were wider and smoothly paved, Washington Street is inaccessible by pubic transportation and keeps the physically-challenged from enjoying Pride like the majority of able-bodied folk.

* COMMITMENT MADE to CHELSEA’S BUSINESSES: HOP made a commitment to the LGBT-supportive businesses of Chelsea to do PF there (which was based on unanimous Community Board support welcoming our event). These 8th Avenue businesses and cultural institutions have already made a financial commitment in expecting PF to happen there. All would be less willing to support HOP through event participation, sponsorship, advertising and fundraising events in the future if HOP appears to be just looking out for our own financial interests now in going back to our old location.

* LACK of VOLUNTEERS DAY-OF: HOP has never gotten the numbers of volunteers necessary to do three (3) major Pride events on the same Sunday. PF loses out on attracting volunteers a) because folks hate the ugly, crowded Washington Street location; b) because The March is politically more important, and c) because The Dance is more beautiful and fun. Last year only 12 volunteers total worked PF which led to our first volunteer dying of a heart attack at PF due to an unknown heart condition, over-enthusiasm for his first Pride AND being overworked.

* DECREASING LGBT GROUPS & BUSINESSES PARTICIPATING:
The last several years more LGBT groups and businesses are forced by lack of their own volunteers – to only do The March, not PF. Many
have told us that they hate Washington Street and will no longer participate. Why do a PF this year where more exhibitors will be non-LGBT `street fair’ vendors selling the same cheap merchandise which other fairs have? In comparison to The Rally in Bryant Park, The March on 5th Avenue, and both our women’s and men’s Dances on Pier 54, PF will once again be viewed in an embarrassing light by the majority of our LGBT community and the media.

* THERE’S NO PRIDE BEING FORCED BACK INTO A DARK, DANK CLOSET! For too long LGBT community members have taken our Pride events for granted. The 15th Annual PRIDEfest in Chelsea was to be a re-birth of a beautiful, innovative community event involving folks of all ages and all sexual orientations. But it appears someone in the Mayor’s Office doesn’t want to see a stronger LGBT community
partnering with supportive gay and straight businesses, cultural
institutions and non-profit groups in Chelsea!

I understand those reasons. But of me also wonders about the decision to move it out of the place where mostly black and Latino folks hang out, to white-boy haven, Chelsea. I can’t help but wonder about the racial implications of that.

In addition, HOP has not seemed to address the amount of policiing, and making people walk through thos goddamn metal barricades, which for me, have made Pride absolutely unbearable. Rather than being able to cgo dierctly across the street, for example, streets are blocked off so you’ll spend 2 hours (not an exaggeration) to go 10-12 blocks while in a barricade to get to your destination. Maddening.

So if PRIDE also had problems getting volunteers, it speaks to the fact that people aren’t really invested in it. They may go, but are they really moved or politically engaged enought to not only volunteer for the festival, but to fight the city on HOP’s behalf?

11 thoughts on “NO NYC Pride. Do You Care?

  1. Kenyon,

    There are more things to worry about than us celebrating pride.

    Hence, the young man that die last week. Who paid attention?

    We can live without a pride…we can live with men not shakin their buttocks marching down Greenwich…who cares…

  2. Dear Kenyon,

    First I appreciate your posting information about the Mayor’s Office Permit Denial (2 months before) our 15th Annual PRIDEfest was to happen in Chelsea. While I understand how the issue of race has entered the PF conversation, it should be noted that no time when our multi-racial committee of women and men talked about moving the event did the issue of race enter our conversations. PF was being moved because Washington Streets and those Village streets are TOO SMALL for 300,000 to 500,000 people to be on the same Sunday afternoon… nor is that site accessible to the disabled, seniors or parents with small children. Do white gay boys go to Chelsea? Yeah, but so do many other folks of all races, ages, sexual orientations and of both sexes. It would be a beautiful, spacious location which would have been SAFE and comfortable for all. It is clear to HOP that the City doensn’t give a damn about public safety for LGBT people because they had/have NO answer to local police concerns (local police who support the LGBT community, btw) raised about stumbling/falling of attendees, accidents and fire incidents, and the death of volunteer last year (heart attack) and the length of time it took EMS to arrive through the crowds. Keeping us stuck in the Village to me is both an anti-LGBT and anti-Minority decision by the City.

  3. PRIDEfest the free street fair was cancelled by the 14 members of Heritage of Pride who voted to cancel the event, when given the option and a permit from the city for PRIDEfest to happen in the West Village on June 24th the day of the 38th annual LGBT Pride Parade.
    Please be aware of that fact.
    The potholes have been filled in on Washington Street and Christopher Street as of today Wednesday May 16th 2007.
    Please be aware of that fact.
    One of the many numerous community outreach programs that is offerred at PRIDEfest is free HIV, AIDS and STD testing and screening. Testing everyone and knowing your status SAVES LIVES.
    So the free street fair is important, as important as any of the PAY events.
    In terms of a lack of interest I do not believe that that is a true statement. There are many individuals, community groups, business’, artists, performers, and food and beverage vendors, prepared to help out and make PRIDEfest a success.
    I also do not believe that any person or business in Chelsea prepared to do an event on 8th Avenue would make a personal or business decision to not participate at a larger event in the West Village.
    LGBT Pride Parade and the PRIDEfest free street fair is not stuck in the village, the west village is where the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered young men and women resisted the police harrassment at the Stonewall Bar.
    The West Village is the appropriate and historical location for this event.
    How is it that Heritage of Pride has chosen to cancel the only event that is FREE on that day and is focussed on producing the dances which are for 18+ only and cost $45 ? Does that sound inclusive of everyone to you ? Heritage of Pride has a responsibility to produce PRIDEfest, if they need the community’s help to put the street fair together then Heritage of Pride only needs to ask.
    We are ready willing and able to help make PRIDEfest a safe and exciting and fun and health educational event !

    To do nothing on that day is UNACCEPTABLE !
    I find it unconscionable to reach out to the LGBT Community to help out for “select pay events” and not provide a free event for those same people. If you quickly compare what cities like Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San francisco and Atlanta offer their residents in terms of a free festival you will see this can be done. Remember New York City is a world class city and we throw parties for other groups all the time. How many LGBT individuals worked on the Tribeca Film Festiva ? And Heritage of Pride is saying that they can’t find community support for one afternoon that comes every year at the same time in June to make a free street fair for the entire LGBT community.
    I choose to belive that many of us are prepared to make PRIDEfest a success. The City of New York and the Department of Transportation fixed the potholes in 24 hours. WE along with Heritage of Pride have 38 days to create a street fair for ourselves: can we do it ? YES WE CAN !

    PS: there’s always Hudson Avenue between Chritopher Street and Bank street: the same width as Eighth Avenue, a slightly shorter length, with a playground The Bleecker Public Playground at Hudson Street and West 11th for parents with children and an adjacent shade area with benches and trees for seniors. Hudson is freshly paved and should be accessible to all.
    Send the floats South then, and let the people go North.
    Happy NYC GLBT Pride !

  4. To clarify, NYC Pride WILL be proceed as planned!!! It is the street festival that has been cancelled.
    Nathaniel, while I completely understand your frustration…it is out of place. The people who volunteer at HOP do so because they believe in the importance of celebrating the LGBT community. Making Pride happen takes allot of work. We decided to do this because we refuse to be told what to do by the city, when it is obvious that the city is more than capable of supplying the services it says it can not on Saturday June 23rd. We are standing up for ourselves, our events, and our community.

    Also, let me say that the two benefits events we have, The Pier Dances, are the reason why there are Pride Events. Without them: No Pride.
    The March, Rally, and the Pridefest events have ALWAYS BEEN FREE.

    Should anyone like to find out how they can help us, please visit our website: hopinc.org

  5. Pingback: NYC PRIDE Update: The Parade and Pier Party are On! « Kenyon Farrow

  6. Honestly I think they should move PRIDEFEST to a Saturday night before the parade, & the dance on the pier this would leave romm for room for the peeps to move around & not worry if someone is going to die that day because if EMS can’t get through.
    MOVE THE PEOPLE!!!! move the parade south, the fest north & that will give people to stretch they’re legs from standing in 1 spot for 5 hours!
    COME ON GUYS GET WITH THE PROGRAM!

  7. I think it is a pity that NYC of all places can’t get its sheet together. I have gone to Toronto, San Fransisco and other places for many years and decided to go to NYC this year.
    WHAT A MISTAKE!
    SHAME ON YOU!
    I GUESS IT’S BACK TO TORONTO NEXT YEAR!

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