Op-ed: Why I blame myself for the Pridefest debacle and you should too
When the community heard that Pridefest was not going to be held in Peace Plaza this year, they cried foul. People began to spread blame widely and without much thought.
The straight allies blamed the “man” and the Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA), claiming that LGBT folks were “kicked out of downtown,” but this was not a case of discrimination and the RDA was not to blame. The board of Gay and Lesbian Community Services (GLCS) decided that the new and higher rental fees for Peace Plaza were too expensive for the small non-profit to afford. This is understandable, even if the fees, totaling a little over $2,000, are perfectly within reasonable fundraising limits. Additionally, these well-meaning straight allies might be unaware of the fact that the director of the RDA is not straight.
Many members of the LGBT community also placed blame for the change of venue, choosing to target GLCS. As a member of the LGBT community, I believe this blame is also misplaced. The people planning Pridefest have consistently made sure the event happens each year when NO ONE ELSE steps up to plan it. If other people, like me, would take on some of the responsibility than we would have a more representative and manageable event. It also would never have moved from Peace Plaza.
The real parties at fault here are all the LGBT people and straight allies who neither support the event financially or with their time. I am among that group of people and therefore I am to blame too. We need to step up and support community events that we value if we want them to continue to exist.
This morning, I received word from the Pridefest Planning Committee and GLCS that they are listening to concerns from the community and are willing to change the venue back to Peace Plaza if they can get enough financial support to pay for it. That is why I am doing my part to rectify this situation by donating $100 to the rental fees.
Instead of blaming others, I encourage everyone to do their part and donate to make sure Pridefest stays downtown in 2016 and years to come. You can donate to this effort here and like Pridefest on Facebook here.
Jeff Jurewicz is a community advocate and former board member of GLCS.
(Cover graphic: The Med City Beat)