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?