Representatives from the Latino and African American LGBT communities chastised the San Diego Pride board of directors last week, criticizing the lack of ethnic diversity at the 2011 celebration. In addition, they announced intentions to re-launch the Latin Pride and Ebony Pride events if steps are not taken to make future festivals more diverse.
“I am just disgusted. I am offended. I went to the festival this year and I did not see anything that was representative of me,” said Franko “Franceska” Guillen.
Guillen, who has served as emcee for past Pride festivals, and Charles Patmon Jr., director of Urban Pride, addressed the board members, telling them stories of how they both attempted to work with the Pride organization this year to help organize stages specifically for Latino, African American, Asian and other performers from the ethnic LGBT communities. However, despite their efforts and their offer of assistance, no diversity stages were part of the festival.
“We knew this was going to happen,” Patmon said. “Our main concern, even back when I contacted Pride about having an African American or Urban Pride stage, was whether there was going to be a backlash from the urban community, specifically the African American community, that they weren’t represented.”
When the Latin Pride and Ebony Pride (now Urban Pride) festivals–which were separate events several years ago–were combined with the San Diego Pride celebration, Guillen and Patmon said the organizers were promised that Pride would always include Latin and Urban stages.
[Board Co-Chairwoman Judy] Schaim said Pride’s finances are stronger now, and they can review the possibilities of adding “a lot more diversity in the footprint of the festival.” However, without a written promise for next year’s event, Guillen and Patmon are working to relaunch the Latin Pride and Urban Pride festivals.
“… we are going to come back with the Latino Pride festival and it’s going to be bigger and better,” Guillen said.
“Someone from Pride asked me once, ‘What is Urban Pride? Are you part of us?’ Right now I have to say no,” Patmon said, adding, “We are in the works of creating our own product this next year because of what has happened.”