During the first weekend in March, Delta Pride Foundation, the great folks who put on Pittsburgh’s Pride celebration, hosted their colleagues from North East Regional Pride (NERP) and Prides of the South East (POSE) in a full three days of workshops speakers and networking. NERP and POSE are part of InterPride, the organization that includes not only pride coordinators in the United States, but also from all over the world. Embattled areas like Russia, parts of Africa, the Pacific Rim and more all have groups that produce events for LGBTI people, even while battling for their rights and in some cases, their lives.
NERP is Region Six of InterPride and includes Washington, D.C. and the Baltimore area, in the south, to Southern Maine, in the north. POSE is Region Five and extends from Florida, Alabama and Louisiana, in the south, to Virginia, in the north. This conference involved most of the Eastern Seaboard and the round of speakers and workshops reflected this diversity, both geographically and in terms of our community.
March 3 was a pre-conference day featuring the showing of “MARCH ON! The Movie.” “MARCH ON!” is a collection of our-story, the stories of men and women living an authentic life. Director Laura McFerrin was on hand throughout the weekend to talk about the work. Rumor has it that you may see a review soon in these pages. Shhhh!
March 4 offered some great local color in addition to some amazing workshops. There was a visit to the Warhol Museum and local politician Doug Shields spoke to the crowd. You cannot underestimate the value of working well with all of the local movers and shakers and, whether Independent, Republican, Democrat, Green, we all need one another and we have many areas where we come together. That day’s workshops included legal strategies for growth of pride organizations, activism, getting talent to your pride, and getting youth involved. From there we were whisked off to one of the gems in Pittsburgh’s crown, the Duquesne Incline–running up Mount Washington, which provided a panoramic view of the city. Once atop the hill, we ascended higher still to the Party Palace, where the cocktail hour included a performance by Martha Wash and the glitterati included Kristine W. The firepits outside took the chill off and the views from every floor of the house were magnificent. Many thanks to our hosts!
March 5 came early and the sessions were as powerful as those of the day before. As they included how to make your Pride more eco-friendly, branding and marketing, volunteers, Faith and Pride, getting the entire community involved with your event, transgender involvement, sponsorship and brainstorming for Stonewall 50, and more, there was something for everyone. One of the best sessions was a workshop on how to make high performing boards even MORE effective–one of the most popular of the entire conference. During lunch, Matthew Nosanchuck, Senior Counselor in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, reminded us of the progress that the White House has made on our behalf over the last two-and-a-half years. What a great way to lead off the afternoon!
That night’s Gala Dinner included speeches by Delta Pride Foundation board members, and by another White House habitué, Brian Bond, who is the Deputy Director of the Office of Engagement at the White House, and who spoke from a broad historical perspective and provided a lot of inspiration for the battles yet to come. We then had a cabaret style performance from dance diva Kristine W, whose jazz-flavored renditions of songs like “Stairway to Heaven,” as well as slow-jam arrangements of her own song soon gave over to her dance songs we all love. She then departed for her gig at a local club, inviting us all to see her midnight show.
March 6 was bittersweet, as the end of conferences can be. We have new fire, new resolve and a host of new friends from south and west of the Mason-Dixon Line. Michael Hinson, from the International Federation of Black Prides, spoke eloquently of how we can get everyone to the table for discussion, as we find our common ground. Nathan Manske presented his work throughout the country in his workshop ImFromDriftwood.com and the conference ended on a super high note with the final keynote by Sean Strub, founder of POZ magazine. This year’s celebrations should be better than ever before!
Look for us on Facebook and know that touching the future is fulfilling, not only from a social consciousness perspective, but also from a spiritual and energy perspective. Next stop? InterPride’s Annual General Meeting this fall in Brussels! I’m packing now!