It dawned on me that something I wrote the other day about the Delta Foundation board was misleading. Not really false, but less than the whole story. Thinking about it reminded me of the Wizard of Oz and that scene where the big and powerful wizard is shown to be a regular guy putting on a show. Is Delta like that? Yes, I think so. Here is what I said the other day:

 I know all but three members of the board, and none of the persons I know are straight.

This is a true statement if you are talking about the Delta Board of Directors, the folks directly responsible for the operation of the organization. But it is false, if you also consider the other “boards” Delta lists on their web site, where two advisory boards are identified.

These additional boards do contain some straight persons, which is a good thing, in my opinion, but my earlier statement seemed to suggest the boards mostly gay and that might not be fully true. More interestingly, there are persons on these boards who say they have never been contacted or to a meeting of any sort after they agreed to serve in an advisory capacity.

This also comes into question if you consider Delta’s media person, Chris Bryan’s comments to the Post Gazette. This is where the facade starts showing:

Moreover, she denied the broader claim that Delta is not inclusive and said neither Mr. Van Horn nor the board would be resigning. She said she wished the protesters would talk to Delta instead of campaigning on social media.

So, the board is made up of 11 men, two women, and at least 12 of these individuals are white. If this is Delta’s idea of “inclusion,” it is no wonder people are claiming Delta is out of touch with Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community.

Bryan cites past Pride in the Street entertainers as proof of diversity as well, but this is a fallacious statement too:

Christine Bryan, Delta’s director of marketing and development, denied all of that, saying that over the years there has been a diversity of headlining acts, including Melissa Etheridge, Patti LaBelle and, last year, Chaka Khan. Additionally, she said, the opening act last year was Jezebel Bebbington D’Opulence, a transgender woman.

These are performers chosen almost exclusively for a gay male audience, as were other headliners Bryan conveniently leaves out. That there is a a drag performer who identifies as trans in the mix, and a person of color smacks of tokenism more than inclusivity.

Delta presents itself as something other than what it is. It calls itself Western Pa’s leading LGBT organization, and it’s not, no matter how much it wants you to think that. It is however a small somewhat exclusive group of mostly men who intend to do good, but fail to represent and address the needs of the whole LGBTQ community here in Pittsburgh, let alone in Western PA.

In my opinion, some of the backlash about Iggy Azalea is about how parts of Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community feel alienated by such a controversial performer who blatently appropriates and cashes in on African American Culture. But underneath that is a longstanding and very justified frustration with an organization run mostly by a few white persons  (including Bryan) which makes itself out to appear like the all- powerful wizard. It is this attempt to be the wizard that has people most outraged, and the Delta Foundation remains tone deaf to this point.

This isn’t a clip with the wizard, but it is fun to watch anyway.

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