Published Thursday, 29-Jul-2010 in issue 1179
It’s been just over a week since we celebrated San Diego LGBT Pride weekend. I have been invited to reflect on the past five months.
It had been so painful for so many of us to see what happened to the Pride organization in the days leading up to January 27, 2010. We had witnessed an organization that is so respected and appreciated experience a series of missteps that resulted in negative public scrutiny. So it was on January 27 that the new board of nine would congregate to find new and exciting ways for producing San Diego Pride weekend.
As I looked around the table I was aware that five of us had previously been co-chairs of the organization, and I hadn’t served on the board for eight years and many others hadn’t served for quite some time either. It was quite a daunting task that we had been asked to stabilize an organization that each of us loved and cared about so passionately.
Most of us had been at the Town Hall meetings in which our community expressed their anger, lack of support, and questions about the organization. It was in that climate that we began the tasks at hand. Those challenges included: Learning about the organization that many of us had left some time ago; understanding a financial situation that was extremely difficult due to a very confusing budget (62 pages); stabilizing the staff, which was very difficult given that we were so disconnected from what they had been doing; and finally, begin creating an extraordinary summer event. All of this was to be accomplished in five months.
We had many disbelievers and detractors. So our first task was to meet with anyone and everyone who was interested in talking about their unhappiness with the organization.
We held three town hall meetings to learn what our community wanted and to hear their concerns. We have tried to address many of the issues that were expressed. We still have more to do and we’re trying to be thoughtful, conscientious, and fiscally responsible.
Today we are so proud of what we created with the support of our hardworking staff, large army of volunteers and rebounding community support. On the Friday morning breakfast at the Center, I had tears running down my cheek. It was with such disbelief that I could see what we had worked so hard to accomplish was actually materializing. The staff was phenomenal. It wasn’t easy for them to work with us because of the gap in our different experiences, however, we continued adjusting and retooling what we needed to do to create a synergy with them, and we did it.
How proud we are of everyone who supported us, volunteered, asked what we needed, and encouraged us to keep moving forward. We are so grateful to all of our community organizations that showed patience and understanding when we most needed it.
A huge thank you to our elected officials who supported us and helped us whenever asked.
So what did we accomplish? We helped raise the flag at SDSU, we presented another successful Out at the Park with the San Diego Padres, we received a proclamation from City Hall (with no detractors), we supported the City Hall GLBT display (a first), we created a rally that touched many of you, our parade was gap-free (a first), the two-day festival was well attended because our staff was stellar in creating a fine-tuned machine. And all of this was done in five months.
I would like to thank Vern Lowe for the tremendous job he did in his organization abilities, his attention to details, his willing to take feedback, his accountability to our financial responsibilities, and his passion and commitment to the organization; and to Cheli Mohammad who is so loved by the volunteers. She was able to create an extraordinary team of 850-plus volunteers due to her enthusiasm and commitment to each and every person she comes in contact with.
Our thanks extend also to Jennifer Turner-Minotti who spent an amazing amount of time studying previous parades, organizing the parade so that it was seamless, developing the entertainment line up and being so committed; to John Bilow for his marketing outreach, web site skills and commitment in producing our 72-page Pride Program; to Patty Zwolinski for her energy, enthusiasm and unyielding office support; to Frank Sabatini Jr. for his written words, his extraordinary ability to fine tune our messages and his valuable connections to the media; to Ben Orgovan for his amazing ability to organize the parade and his willingness to do whatever needs to be done; to Cindy Uybungco for stepping in when we were in desperate need of last-minute design work for our Pocket Guide; and to the many other coordinators, supervisors, volunteers and allies who helped us rebuild community trust and enthusiasm.
I would also like to thank Marcellas Reynolds for accepting our invitation to emcee the main stage. He did so by providing his own transportation from Los Angeles and arranging room reservations on his personal expense. We would like to express our apologies for any miscommunications on our part regarding the scheduling of his stage appearances.
Additional thanks go to emcees Ophelia and Aaron Heier for their ongoing support to the local community and for their participation in the parade and festival.
And most of all, we would like to thank each and every one of you including our many sponsors and vendors for believing in us, supporting us, and helping us create a fabulous Pride weekend.