Looking Back on Pride

Whitman-Walker, Community Partners examine the pros and cons of new Capital Pride structure

The storm clouds remained at bay and the pavement never made it to the melting point. It’s a tried and true formula for a perfect Capital Pride parade and festival.

”Income was probably good,” said Dave Mallory of Whitman-Walker Clinic (WWC), who heads both Capital Pride and the clinic’s annual fundraising AIDSWalk, on Monday. Mallory, who is taking time off till July 5 following the demands of this year’s Pride events, spoke to Metro Weekly from Seattle. ”We kept costs as tight as we possibly could. I think we did a good job of that, but we’ll see. The [festival] site was sold out, and we had at least as many parade contingents as last year. Indications are good, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Mallory estimated that the final accounting will be completed by the end of June, with release to the public in mid-July, once Capital Pride Community Partners have been apprised.

Jamil Fletcher, director of corporate relations at WWC, who has been fielding queries in Mallory’s absence, adds, ”The crowds, especially for the parade and festival, were on par with past successful Capital Prides — or better. And we had more diverse participation in terms of vendors, sponsors and participants.”

That financial risk and reward was spread around a bit this year as the clinic ushered in a new plan, ”Capital Pride Community Partners,” allowing other community groups to join in planning, executing and financing Capital Pride, to varying degrees.

”We think the event was a success, in large part because of more participation from more organizations — our Capital Pride partners,” says Fletcher. ”We’d welcome the involvement of additional partners. Everyone is welcome to participate at a level that works for them. It’s designed to represent the depth and breadth of our community.”

John DiNapoli, who represented Westminster Presbyterian Church as a Community Partner through the Capital Pride process, says the 2007 planning went well, though he does say that as the scheme evolves, Community Partners should be allowed greater control, versus ”legacy” organizations who have greater histories with Capital Pride or a greater stake in funding the event.

”There were some growing pains, organizationally. [WWC] was trying to transform into this Community Partner model, but there was still this legacy of the Executive Committee,” says DiNapoli, pointing to the small entity responsible for approving most decisions of the larger, more diverse Planning Committee.

Although DiNapoli says there were times he and others wondered if they were ”equal partners or not,” he calls the experience ”positive.”

”We had input, but it was always apparent that the legacy group was in control,” he says. ”Community Partners should be partners, with more say. But I think they’re trying to respect people who’ve invested a lot in the past.

”… We do want to participate next year if it’s the [Community Partners] kind of model. But if it’s still this legacy Executive Committee, there’s no benefit. We could’ve kept the thousand dollars we put in and done [our events] ourselves,” says DiNapoli, explaining that Westminster was the site of the first D.C. TransPride, a dinner and dance for GLBT youth, a screening of The DL Chronicles with One In Ten, and a wellness event during Capital Pride.

Mallory points out that three Community Partners investing $5,000 or more apiece were represented on the Executive Committee: WWC, The Center–Home for GLBT in Metro DC, and the Human Rights Campaign. Further, a representative from the Radical Faeries represented Community Partners not making that level of investment on the Executive Committee.

Isaiah Webster III represented the D.C.-based National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC), another Community Partner, during the planning stages of Capital Pride. At NYAC, he serves as project coordinator. He says some measure of tension between the Planning and Executive committees was to expected, but that the process left him hopeful that Capital Pride is on the right course.

”David Mallory, in particular, was very outgoing, very organized. The meetings ran smoothly,” says Webster. ”They’re really trying to make it more community oriented, and they went out of their way to let people have their say. The Executive Committee had final say over things, because the Planning Committee (of about 35 people) was fairly large. That didn’t bother me, because it was their first year with this structure. I’d expect the Planning Committee to gain more authority each year. I think over time that will happen. But the number or people on the Planning Committee will probably double. You’ll probably still need an Executive Committee.”

Regardless of how the Community Partners, WWC and the various committees tinker with the formula ahead of Capital Pride 2008, one thing is certain: Planning for Capital Pride 2008 will be well underway before the first signs of fall.

”The evaluation meeting will be in July, where we’ll wrap-up with the entire Planning Committee,” Mallory explained of the process. ”[Capital Pride 2007] went incredibly well. It’s testament to the folks working on it. People really took ownership of the event…. I couldn’t have asked for a better week.”

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.

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