I had the privilege of serving as producer of the inaugural D.C. Pride festivities when first expanded and relocated to “America’s Main Street” of Pennsylvania Avenue in 1995. I was disheartened and dismayed this week by the embarrassing demeanor and preposterous demands of a small gaggle of objectors at a Capital Pride Alliance meeting.
The hundreds of volunteers, 18-member board, two paid staff and six independent contractors laboring to produce the 43rd annual Capital Pride celebration have had to suffer a last-minute nuisance this year.
Worse, they were wholly disrespected and personally disparaged by a group of far-left zealots during a churlish attempt at hegemony.
Despite hurling accusatory admonitions toward anyone not in agreement while claiming they felt “unsafe” at the civil and well-moderated meeting, the group commanded that those not among them “check their privilege” in a manner intended to distort and diminish discussion. In fact, it was these diehard militants who were guilty of exercising an arrogant “privilege” that only those who had not participated in the diligent work to produce the events while engaging the full diversity of the community would deem virtuously owed them.
The room stank of it.
Most are unaware of the manufactured conflict propagandized by this small group with an extremist political agenda. Their grousing is so unjustified and demands so over-the-top ridiculous that providing them the attention they so desperately and transparently seek is done with hesitation.
What sadly seems most lost upon these complainers is that there is negligible existing or potential sympathy among the rank-and-file for their outrageous ultimatums. They seem blissfully oblivious to the fact that their assemblage was no more fully representative of the broader LGBT community than those gathered down the street at a neighborhood gay bar. They purport to speak for all of us when in reality they are reflective of few outside their miniscule number.
These protesters are part of an orchestrated “No Justice No Pride” effort plaguing LGBT Pride committees in several U.S. cities, as well as Canada and the U.K. Pride events are merely the proxy victim in a rhetorical whining war against capitalism, banks, the military, police, prisons, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the rest of their publicized list.
Similar to this tiny group in D.C., small self-alienated gangs of anti-business and anti-police political fanatics have targeted local Pride committees hoping to dictate rejection of corporate financial contributions and business support. They also seek prohibiting local police from participating in parades and festivals to even include LGBT officer contingents and eliminating all police department management of public safety, street closure, traffic and pedestrian management, and other resident-respecting civil operational tasks – lest uniformed police “trigger” anyone.
They also have as their goal ad hoc takeover coups of local Pride groups, proclaiming in D.C. that the coordinating board must be immediately replaced with “marginalized and oppressed” people by casting out any white, cis, gender-binary and “privileged” – especially males – among them.
Really. I’m not making this stuff up.
There is a startling irony in demanding that allied corporate support underwriting fully half the cost of a yearlong undertaking with a seven-figure budget be outlawed. Not only is the LGBT community characterized by a disproportionately high percentage of business owners, corporate executive leadership and enterprise management, the business community is recognized for its leading role in advocating and achieving advancement of equality.
The LGBT community celebrates and embraces the cultural affirmation and public policy support of business allies, ignoring the chronic grievance-collectors hoping to push non-LGBT issues on which we may reasonably, and often do, disagree.
The D.C. Pride committee has had to bear the burden of a self-indulgent public hissy-fit by a small and unrepresentative group when final event logistics are the priority.
Appreciation is due the Capital Pride Alliance for a tireless commitment to producing one of the most diverse, successful and respected Pride celebrations anywhere.
It’s a pity they didn’t hear that this week.
Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.