Out and About with Dana Miller

It is Not Your Job to Make Us Proud. You’re Just in Charge of Packaging!
Dana Miller

The anticipated fireworks around the issue of West Hollywood’s gay Pride festivities never materialized at the January City Council confab, yet seeds of ideas were planted as fertilizer was strewn about. The Council questioned Christopher Street West President Rodney Scott on a number of issues, plus several scripted props of people and a few truly civic-minded folks spoke. I have written before that I like Mr. Scott and believe him to be more than capable of producing a world-class event.

Though gracious to the Council’s queries, at times his tone was like Boehner chastising the president—a sort of lecture vibe. And while the questions were far from complex, Scott surprisingly either couldn’t or wouldn’t offer answers to fairly banal yet specific questions. Either he was evasive or needs to read up on Pride.

There were speakers of all shapes and sizes, some critical and some quite moving: Young people who spoke of their first Pride experience last year and what it meant to them. One board member spoke of his journey and how it had changed his life. And smart dame Genevieve Morrill from the Chamber of Commerce dutifully put on the record just how important Pride is to local business. That was all good.

I only threw up a little in my mouth when a gent from the board took his time to lecture gays on how important Pride is to gays. This was a revelation? Really? He was a boorish, sanctimonious gent who represents all that is wrong with this Pride debate. Lord dude, we know Pride is important. We know how it unites, celebrates and brings all the colors of the rainbow together. No one wants to change that.

Yet you and your fellow board folk don’t have a rat’s ass to do with that aspect. We the people do. See, we dug the Pride parade with the white tigers down Hollywood Boulevard decades ago. We still dig what coming together means. We embrace the Pride part. It’s the presentation, stupid.

By not doing it as well as possible is simply not respecting what it could be. This dolt’s argument against criticism of Pride is tantamount to saying a sucky high school production of Williams’ The Glass Menagerie means the writing is dreadful and in fact, the entire theater experience is as well. No, it doesn’t. It just could be better. And this ain’t Fargo. This is the entertainment capital of the world. Entertainment—get it?

To say Pride brings folks together and often facilitates life-changing revelations is correct. To say those calling for improvement to that gathering is an affront on all gay people is just asinine. It is a shallow argument meant to divide while puffing off about unity. That is obscene!

We will not stand idly by as you take credit for an effort we are all responsible for and achieve when you are simply in charge of packaging. Many of us are also proud the 362 days per year there is no Pride. You didn’t create it, you doll it up.

The gent suggested, “We don’t want the Rose Parade. If you want the Rose Parade, go to Pasadena.” Well, as the guy behind the Elizabeth Taylor tribute float for her service to people living with HIV and AIDS last month in the Rose Parade, funded by thousands of folks honoring the memories of ones they have lost with the tribute of a single rose, I believe him to be wrong. Having spent a few weeks in their culture, I know there is a ton we could learn from the Rose Parade. AIDS Healthcare Foundation intends to present a version of that float in this year’s Pride parade.

So perhaps ramping up production value is a good place to start. And perhaps some of us need to put up or shut up as we debate this canyon between good and bad.

So here’s the deal: In the spirit of ramping up quality and doing the right thing, and being good citizens, AIDS Healthcare Foundation offers up this challenge to all community-based nonprofits: If 10 organizations will pledge to commit to designing, producing and entering a quality float to spread the word of their mission in the 2012 Pride parade, AHF’s Out of the Closet thrift stores and pharmacies will pledge $2,500 to each organization to assist in bringing quality to Pride.

The galoot made reference to the difficulty of fundraising today and for that he may be correct. But Scott spoke of volunteers who are dedicated to this event and I watched firsthand as folks from the Girl Scouts, staffers from AHF and APLA and just caring souls came by to decorate the Elizabeth Taylor float for Jan. 2.

Let’s start with Pride production values in 2012 and pursue the myriad of other issue around the event in the future. There is likely not a gay soul who disagrees with the chappie on the wonderful meaning of Pride. But don’t lecture—deliver. And don’t fight against improvement under the guise of unity. It is both disingenuous and an outright lie.

If you are a community not-for-profit organization and want to take up the AHF offer, email me.

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  1. David posted on 03/10/2012 11:12 AM
    It is time to bring a new look to our tired parade. Most of my friends don't go anymore as it's the same thing each year. I was one of the early ones who marched back in the 1970's when it was on Hollywood Boulevard with Harvey Milk. It was a time of GAY RIGHTS NOW, NO ON 6, Anita Bryant. The parade was our tool to get information across to the masses. Today, it's one mass billboard with half-naked bodies advertising their products and/or services.

    It's time we stepped up to the plate to create a festive parade filled with colorful floats, bands, sports teams from around the country and people. Honor those that have made a difference, create themes, make it something to be PROUD about, again.

    Have various floats which shows Los Angeles gay history. Theme it Looking Back, Moving Forward. I'm always reminiscing with friends about the places and people who helped make our community what it is today. Celebrate that Pride as well as current! Create floats that reflect Harvey Milk, Morris Kight, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Sheldon Andelson who BTW helped found the Gay Community Center in LA as well as helped organize opposition to the No On 6 Campaign prohibiting homosexuals from teaching in schools. Reflect on the businesses where we shopped, ate and drank, i.e., Side Street, Ah Men, Propinquity, All American Boy, David's on Melrose, The Blue Parrot, Rascals, The Rusty Nail, Detour, The Apache, The Pink Elephant in Santa Monica, Cuffs, Larry's, The Stud. Who can't forget the memories at The Office in the Valley where the Camper's were born. Let's not forget our past and honor it with Pride, it was during this time when those places were all we had to meet people. It was our since of comfort. Begin to make our Pride a classy event for the world to see.

    This includes sprucing up the festival. Limit the greasy food trucks who don't even live in our area. Invite the areas restaurants (high to low end) to come in to serve their food, beverages. It's a great way for us to try out their food and support them. Create a food and wine section with tables and softer entertainment geared more towards the older gay community. Also include an area for The One Foundation who contains much of our gay history. We must begin to support one another.

    There are many more ways to help make a positive change, these are just a few for me. Thanks AHF for making the first move forward.
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