PrideFest drew thousands of revelers, a diverse line-up of performers, and an undeniably impressive roster of drag queens to HemisFair Park on Saturday. Conspicuously absent from the first of the city’s two main Pride Month events were four of the city’s biggest GLBT community organizations.
The withdrawal of Human Rights Campaign, Metropolitan Community Church, the San Antonio AIDS Foundation, and Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio came in early June after Pride Fest announced it had lost non-profit status. “We are not comfortable continuing with our involvement,” the local branch of Human Rights Campaign said in a statement. “Therefore, this year and for future years, HRC San Antonio will only participate in one Pride — Pride San Antonio.”
Pride San Antonio, a parade and festival, will be held June 30. HRC went on to call for the two events to merge. “We encourage the boards of PrideFest and Pride San Antonio to come together and work collaboratively to present one Pride celebration to our community,” the statement said.
Some of the organizations were also concerned that mobilizing for two big events in one month strained resources and volunteers. Donna Rose, co-chair of this year's PrideFest, attributed much of the tension between the groups to internal politics. “The main reason we haven't been able to join forces is because ‘so-and-so’ doesn't like ‘so-and-so,’” Rose said. “We would love to be able to have one event.”
Rose also countered claims that two events were creating an unneccesary drain on resources for some groups. “By having two events, we are able to give back [to the community] two times,” Rose said. “You are not going to raise more money by cutting into one event.”
At HemisFair Park, Norma Ortega staffed the booth for Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Asked about her organization’s choice to participate in this year’s PrideFest, Ortega was upbeat. “The only concern I had was whether I would have enough volunteers for both events,” she said. “I didn't have an issue participating in both events for political reasons.”
The San Antonio AIDS Foundation, which had backed out of this year’s PrideFest, still has its concerns. “We just want to make sure we have all the facts,” Marketing Director Regina Villalobos said, referring to PrideFest’s status as a non-profit. Nevertheless, she admitted, “it would make more sense to have one event.” — Andrew Oxford