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FROM THE EDITOR

2/8/2017
2017 PRIDE season is fast approaching;
I wanted to discuss this topic especially with the recent changes. Will history repeat itself?
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February 2017
I would like to take a moment out and thank all of the Community Supporters
that have been showing their support for the GLBT Community of Tampa Bay!

Will we be mesmerized with LARGER Sponsors, LARGER Venues, and Larger Acts at this year's St. Pete PRIDE? Or will history repeat itself?
(*Updated info below 2/13/2017)

Happy New Year! This is the first From the Editor of 2017! There is a lot that has already happened in 2017. With all of these changes it is important to remember that we should stick together in the LGBTQ community and not allow outside influences to shake our foundations. UNITED We Are A STRONG LGBTQ Presence.

PRIDE season is fast approaching; I wanted to discuss this topic especially with the recent changes. Let me briefly go back over a decade and a half ago and what I can recall.
The largest PRIDE celebration in Florida was located right here in TAMPA (2nd Largest in the Southeast). Yes that is right, years before St. Pete's Event was even a concept; Tampa Bay PRIDE was the BIGGEST celebration hands down. The Board and Directors of the group (in its final year) had so many mesmerized with LARGER Sponsors, LARGER Venues, and Larger Acts. It seems like they lost contact with the local community that had started it all for them.

"A few people began raising questions about the producing organization's governance and direction…" "…the festival's relative lack of emphasis on politics and community-building, the original purpose of gay pride celebrations here and across the country." This was from a great article in Creative Loafing (http://www.cltampa.com/news-views/article/20714397/the-rise-and-fall-of-tampa-bay-pride). That was the last year for Tampa Bay PRIDE; they ended upside down in about $300K in bills and allegations of financial improprieties.

Fast forward to this year's announcement from St. Pete's Mayor Rick Kriseman. St. Petersburg has pulled $45,000 in funding from St. Pete Pride in the Historic Kenwood District because of the move*. Recent article in Watermark: ( http://www.watermarkonline.com/2017/01/24/downtown-funds-st-petersburg-mayor-rick-kriseman-pulls-city-funding-st-pete-pride-relocation-announcement/ ).

The Kenwood District is where St. Pete Pride formed in the dust of a collapsed Tampa Bay PRIDE. I recently watched an interview on BayNews9 with one of the original founding fathers of St. Pete Pride; he, like many, shared their concerns about the move. The community and local business leaders "Did Not" want this move, they wanted to keep it in the community it started in!

The Pride Board voted and made the decision to move the (Parade*) event to the waterfront for 2017. Discussion over! The $45K in City funding GONE; at the start of St. Pete Pride 2017 with a financial gap of $45,000 (money used for additional security/safety)*.

There is a definite disconnect from the residents and small business community. Tampa Bay Gay has sponsored LGBTQ (& friendly) events for 15 years; many of those years with St. Pete Pride. Two years ago, I received this response from Eric Skains in regards to sponsoring St. Pete Pride. "Tampa Bay Gay is currently not something we would be able to invest it (in)…" The email goes on to talk about meeting certain criteria, "…how does it (Tampa Bay Gay) increase our income.(?) Unfortunately, we currently would not purchase advertising on Tampa Bay Gay; therefore it would not meet that criteria."

We were offered "Press Passes" so we could cover the events; I agreed, and never heard back from Eric again (after numerous emails and 2 years of trying). I moved on; seeing it as "Bigger Sponsorship" equals more dollars, regardless of representing the local LGBTQ Community equally.

Last year, when I walked the streets in St. Pete I noticed at least eight to ten empty booths (I even took pictures). It appeared they were not SOLD OUT. As a visitor, it seemed to be easy to move around the streets, people were not stepping all over each other. It felt very secure and protection with the City's provided security during the Street Festival (including huge dump trucks blocking every street).

The Night Parade was just like any other Pride celebration parade, fun and secure. I think that the small town feel was one of the "gems" of the St. Pete Pride. I am sure any issues could have been discussed and worked out if given the opportunity. Was a move really necessary when the community is crying out "NO"? That community is where PRIDE started!

I think that we all want to see this be a sucess, but I hope that this decision to move Pride does not come back to bite them. It was voted on by the Board and now it is happening, regardless of the public outcry against it (kind of like our election… YIKES!). St. Pete Pride will move downtown to a bigger area.

My question to you; "Will we will be mesmerized with LARGER Sponsors, LARGER Venues, and Larger Acts at this year's event? Or will history repeat itself?"

I hope that you enjoyed this month's letter sorry about the length (I am passionate about the local LBGTQ and friendly community and sometimes I rant). Please send your questions and comments on the website and any topic you may like. Please send me some feedback. Tell us what you think, it does not have to be anything to do with this topic. I might even reply to your email in the next From the Editor. Thanks for taking the time out to read what I have to say.

-Dave Borman
-Editor
Tampa Bay Gay

* UPDATE:
St. Pete Pride 2/13/2017
"Change for this year's event We'll soon be rolling out the final details of this year's upcoming Pride celebration. We'll make this announcement at our Kick Off event in April.

Until then, know these facts..

The majority of the weekend's events will remain in Grand Central, including the Street Festival!
The final weekend of events will include input from the City of St. Petersburg, Grand Central Business District, and the St Pete Pride planning team.
The City of St. Petersburg will continue to fully fund the event!
This is a discussion that began in January, 2016 with community groups and members.

Only the Pride Parade will relocate to downtown St. Pete. Know that...

We'll be working to ensure easy in and out access to attendees.
After parties will run from downtown St. Pete to Grand Central.
The Pride Parade will start one hour earlier.
Events will take place during the parks prior to the start of the parade."

These are my opinions and do not reflect anyone or business listed on Tampa Bay Gay


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