Blogger’s note: I reached out to Billy and ask if I could publish his statement about the upcoming Pride march here at thomascwaters.com as a part of the ongoing dialogue regarding Pittsburgh Pride and the Delta Foundation. The views expressed are Billy’s alone and may not reflect the views of thomascwaters.com. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to make them available, and believe the sharing of many opinions is the best way to move forward.

If you are committed to ending racism in the LGBTQI community, then …

Don’t March in the 2015 Pittsburgh Pride Parade

By Billy Hileman

Several groups and City Council’s President Bruce Krauss have stated they are withdrawing from next week’s Pittsburgh Pride parade over the Delta Foundation’s poor choice of Iggy Azaela as a main act for the Saturday night party on Liberty Avenue and the Foundation’s empty response to the criticisms.

It would be convenient for some (including me) to separate the Iggy debacle from the Pride parade. But, that isn’t reality. Participation in the parade is explicit support for the status quo. There is no way around it.

For the past several years, the Delta Foundation has accumulated cash from Pride events and the Memorial Day Picnic that has bankrolled its swagger as the voice of our community in the city. The lack of cultural awareness that allowed the selection of Iggy Azaela was the breaking point. The Foundation’s assertion that Iggy isn’t racist or homophobic made it clear that there would be no self-examination of the privileged position Delta holds that allowed such an inexcusable mistake and absurd defense.

When Joy KMT and other’s “Shut It DOWN (No Icky at Pride 2015)” page went up on Facebook in the wee hours of May 17th, a couple of days after Delta announced Iggy Azaela would headline Pride, the Foundation’s self-appointed reign as the voice of the local LGBT community ended. And new voices shouted out. Delta is not being challenged by a rival organization — rather, by a truly grassroots outcry from many corners of the city.

The only restorative option that the Delta Foundation had at the time, was to cancel Iggy and determine if a Saturday evening event on Liberty could happen. Had Delta done that, it would have saved the Parade and gained the Foundation some credibility as a voice for an oppressed community.

The Foundation can’t have it all. It is impossible for a single organization to put Iggy Azaela on the cover of the Pride Guide, host an Iggy concert and an LGBTQI Pride parade/festival in the same 24-hour period and claim that the parade is a celebration of inclusion, diversity, equality and justice.

The Foundation’s actions means the profits from the Saturday evening party are more important than the disenfranchisement of trans and queer people of color, among others. Now the ball is in the court of the Parade participants. Can any of us march in the Parade as a community and affirm to fight for justice later? It cannot work that way. We didn’t link Iggy to our Pride parade. The Delta Foundation did. And Delta isn’t doing anything about it.

So, I am not marching in the 2015 Pride parade. For me, not participating in the parade means the fight for social justice is more important than the parade. Our fight is more important, because without a commitment to social justice, a Pride parade means nothing.

Billy Hileman was part of Pittsburgh Pride committees for several years in the 1990’s.

 

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