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Friday, January 25, 2013 / 2:08 PM

Pride St. Louis, Inc's Response to "Talking to Angelo Olegna of Keep Pride in Tower Grove"

Pride St. Louis, Inc's Response to "Talking to Angelo Olegna of Keep Pride in Tower Grove"

Photograph by Thomas Crone


On Tuesday, January 23, Look/Listen ran a Q&A with Angelo Olegna of Keep Pride in Tower Grove. Soon after the piece was posted, we were contacted by Staci Stift, President of Pride St. Louis. Ms. Stift indicated that Pride St. Louis was concerned because they had not been contacted for quotes, verification or fact-checking. Look/Listen explained that for Q&A format, usually it is a conversation between the writer and the source, but that we would welcome their perspective in this matter. We print Pride St. Louis' rebuttal in its entirety here.

January 24, 2013 St. Louis Magazine 1600 S. Brentwood, Suite 550 St. Louis, MO 63144

Below is Pride St. Louis, Inc.’s response to the question and answer piece that was posted on your site on January 22, 2013. Please note that a large portion of this question and answer piece was not factual and the organizer Angelo Olenga has been served with a cease and desist letter from our organization for infringing on our intellectual property. I would like to ask that someone look into this matter, as this has once again caused confusion within the community.


On Sunday, we caught up to him at the Mud House in Cherokee, where he discussed the project, the energy behind it and the ideals that he hopes will create a second Pride event. One, he feels, that will have less of a corporate feel and more of a grassroots vibe.
Keep Pride In Tower Grove and Angelo Olegna are not affiliated in any way with Pride St. Louis, Inc. No events they have organized are in cooperation with Pride St. Louis or are recognized as official Pride St. Louis events.

There was no real community outreach, or attempts to have a town hall meeting before they made their decision.
Pride St. Louis, Inc. board meetings are open to the public. The community is always welcome to attend and participate by voicing opinions or volunteering with the organization.

No one talked to the small businesses along Grand directly.
Pride St. Louis, Inc. reached out to businesses in South Grand as well as others in the community during the decision making process. Pride St. Louis, Inc. has the full support of the South Grand Community Improvement District and its executive director, Rachel Witt.

The Parks department people that I’ve talked to said that the issues that were brought up about Tower Grove Park being the reason why they’re moving weren’t really problems.
Tower Grove Park is operated independently of the St. Louis City Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department. In a 2012 contract with Pride St. Louis, Inc., the stated rate for the organization's rental of Tower Grove Park in 2013 for the Pride Festival was to be in excess of $15,000. This rate was non-negotiable. Tower Grove Park sets requirements, guidelines, and restrictions for the use of its spaces, such as grassy areas. This limited the ability of Pride St. Louis, Inc. to use areas within the festival footprint in the most effective ways.

People say they’d heard rumors that the board members had talked for a few years that they’d like to move Downtown, but usually that stuff had gotten shut down by the community.
Each year, the elected volunteer board determines where and when the Pride Festival will be held. This is not the first year that a move from Tower Grove Park has been discussed, and the decision has the support of several past presidents and board members of the organization. No community organization has “shut down” any prior decisions by the board.

In the middle of summer, all of those giant trees help, as do the gazebos.
Pride St. Louis, Inc. will be held in June 2013 at Soldiers' Memorial. The new location includes multiple shaded parks in the downtown area as well as increased options for cooling tents, misters, and other cooling options.

It’s amazing when you go down a street that’s inhabited. People are waving and hanging out of their windows. You go the street and people are crammed along the sidewalk.
In recent years, the street department has warned Pride St. Louis that its growing Pride parade was becoming too large for the South Grand area and would eventually need to move to a larger space. It is the second largest annual parade in St. Louis.

You can tell with the multiple letters they’ve posted to their website. They’ve freaked out about it.
This is speculation. The Pride St. Louis board for 2013 decided in the fall to take a more transparent approach with the community, including strengthening communication via a new website and social media channels.

They’ve issued letters saying that they were forced to leave the park; I see that as a sense of them not being able to defend their position.
The letter in question details specific financial information relating to festival operations and use of the park. That information is available here:
In a previous letter, the president addressed the decision process:

We went to their board meeting after the announcement, and based on what was said, and their behavior, I just think that they’re not used to having so much public critique and input, in general.
Pride St. Louis, Inc. is a year-round all-volunteer organization. We welcome the input and support of the community. Everyone was invited to attend a town hall meeting on January 21 to discuss this year's evolution of the organization and the festival. Angelo did not attend, and no one spoke on behalf of Keep Pride In Tower Grove.

We’re saying that Pride is continuing along Grand, but under new management.
Pride St. Louis, Inc. is not under new management. Keep Pride In Tower Grove and Angelo are attempting to leverage an existing entity and name to lend credibility and attention to their own events.

Our Pride is definitely going to be different. And I’d like to think of it as complementary.
Pride St. Louis, Inc. is not affiliated with these events. They are not complementary to our efforts as a board. Keep Pride In Tower Grove continues to misappropriate Pride St. Louis, Inc. copyrighted material, assets, and property to create a false illusion of their connection to our organization.

But it’s going to be beneficial to the neighborhood business districts like Grand
Many South Grand businesses have reported in the past that they do not see an increase in business due to Pride St. Louis events. In fact, several are typically closed on the Sunday of Pride Festival. The South Grand Community Improvement District supports the organization, and Pride St. Louis, Inc. supports business communities throughout the St. Louis region, including on South Grand.

Is there any type of national organization that okays the use of the term “Pride” and how it can be used for events?
InterPride, the International Association of Pride Organizers, is the international networking organization representing LGBT Pride organizations and events worldwide. Pride St. Louis, Inc. is a member of InterPride. More information:

It’s changed hands and changed to different parts of the city. It’s no monolithic thing. It’s time for my generation to take ownership of Pride and do it our way.
Pride St. Louis, Inc. began in 1979 as the St. Louis Lesbian & Gay Pride Celebration Committee and the Magnolia Committee. It has been coordinating and executing St. Louis Pride festivities for over 30 years.The organization is a 501(c)3 non-profit and subject to the regulation and authority of the state of Missouri.

We’ll have our first event on the last Sunday of February, which is going to be a beach party flash mob at the Botanical Gardens.
You may be interested in contacting Deb Springer at the Botanical Gardens about their opinion of this unofficial event. Pride St. Louis, Inc. is not affiliated with this "beach party flash mob."

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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Jan 25, 2013 04:22 pm
 Posted by  cranky

This article states that Pride STL Inc welcomes opinions from the community. I attempted to post this article and my opinion on their FB page (My opinion was that their actions make them out to be a bully). My post was quickly removed. It was a simple opinion, and was not vulgar or inflammatory.

Apparently they are only interested in opinions that match their own. :(

Jan 25, 2013 05:42 pm
 Posted by  Tower Grove Native

I have lived in Tower Grove South for 15 years. I remember the move from Forest Park to Tower Grove. Many were up in arms. They said Tower Grove would never suppport us. The fact is the neighborhood did but it ddoesn't mean the organiztion should not forward their mission and find new ways to advance the LGBT community. Sure I'll miss being close to the festival but I will still go downtown and support their new home. This bickering brought up by people like Angelo is absurd. Where have you been to support Pride STL? I have been to monthy meetings in the past. They ask for help all year for decisions such as committees and even posted many times open positions in the organization. But few bother to get up and actually support any organization in STL unless they benefit from it. We have to stop the petty fighting in our community and support each other.

Do you really think these people earn a profit from serving on the board? Come on be logical. This same tactic has been tried by Angelos group in other areas of the city and failed. I support Pride STL in taking a brave step to bring LGBT issues out front and more mainstream.

I would urge this Tower Grove group to stop acting like chidren. And I wondered how long it would take
Pride STL to send you a cease and desist order. I am a trademark attorney and seen the things you have posted and couldnt believe Pride STL would not speak up against it. You have a lot to learn young man a about running a legit and legal organization

Jan 25, 2013 05:50 pm
 Posted by  Gay God Father

i don't see where there is a problem for another group to have their own pride activities. No one owns pride fest and the board and the committee seems to be taking this all personally. Perhaps in the future you can learn what real gay pride is all about. To me it seems like you have lost your pride. so the only confusion i see is that pride st Louis inc thinks they own every gay event in st Louis. wow what a shame to think that they have become that mighty and can dictate what other people do and say. What if we wanted to have a Mexican pride or an oriental pride. Do these people have to get permission from Pride St. Louis Inc to have their own pride event. No i don't think so. Last time i checked this was still America and we still have our own rights unless Pride St Louis Inc has taken them all away.

Jan 25, 2013 06:14 pm
 Posted by  Keep Pride Moving Forward

I don't gather from anything I've read both via this forum or previous ones that Pride St. Louis is dictating who can and can not hold Pride related events. As the lawyer above points out, this new group is indeed infringing on protected assets of PSL and continues to imply there is a relationship between the two events. This Angelo person is also not being genuine with his group upon that he repeatedly claims to have the support of the CID, which in fact has directly told him they do not support him, and have threatened action for including events such as the Backlot Movies as part of his groups efforts. I feel there should also be some equal transparency in his efforts to put on his events. He claims "super, super discounts" offered by TGP yet a simple call to the park finds it's the same standad rate as anyone else. He claims support by TG businesses, yet only one ever actually participated regularly at the festival, and that business is 100% about the move. Those doing their homework will see Angelo pulled this same senerio on Cherokee Steet to no avail. Pride is not about a particular neighborhood. At it's core it is about celebrating the growing acceptance, visibility, and strides that have been made. The move, which has happened repeatedly before as it grows, can only help continue that momentum

Jan 25, 2013 08:52 pm
 Posted by  Stop whining.

What I think KPITG's organizers are failing to realize is that Pride St. Louis has been in existence for 30+ years and have an organization to protect. I don't think it's the use of the word "Pride" itself that they are protecting, it is their intellectual property that they are working to protect. A cease and desist letter is sent when another person or organization is using things that don't belong to them as their own such as pictures, logos, etc. I haven't heard Pride St. Louis once say that KPITG cannot use the word Pride. Pride St. Louis probably could care less about your "little party in the park" as you called it at the City Diner meeting. Which by the way is a HUGE conflict of interest to hold a meeting where you work Angelo. They are probably more focused on the fact that KPITG is trying to piggie back off their event by having it the same weekend and by using information that belongs to them legally. Why don't you just hold it at another time instead? That is what Chicago does with Market Days. Why be little punks and try to infringe on something that already has history? You, Michael Powers and Brian Sieve sound and are acting like spoiled little brats that want to get their 15 minutes of notoriety. Grow up and learn legalities before you really find yourselves in hot water. I knew after attending the City Diner meeting that you and this organization of yours is a joke.

Jan 26, 2013 09:39 am
 Posted by  KarenMan

"This Angelo person is also not being genuine with his group"

If that's your argument, then maybe you should be genuine with people who are reading this dither and honestly post as a representative of Pride St. Louis, because nobody else would use horse-butt legalese words like "indeed infringing on protected assets." I don't think anybody else would know about the involvement of the CID, or consider going through such lengths to discredit Angelo. That's transparently underhanded, and show's that when posting publicly your organization only makes robotic dissociative statements, but when given anonymity you use it for personal attacks.

The real bummer here is that ya'll had a point when you said that this event is about "growing acceptance, visibility, and strides that have been made." I agree with you in many ways, and I think that it's always better to stand united. That's the point after all, so why try to shut down a person with a similar vision so cruelly? Angelo may not be in the right here, but I find your organization's insistence on using bullying tactics like this rebuttal truly despicable.

I was in the parade last year, but I regret to inform you, Pride St. Louis TM, I will not be attending this year. I do hope you have an excellent turn out, and I wish you the best, but most of all I wish you'd consider why you are so afraid of one person and his rag-tag group of "little spoiled brats" (yeah, STOP WHINING was also posted by you guys)


p.s. You're going to have a hard time proving Pride St. Louis's intellectual property. Pride doesn't belong to anybody, and just because you've been putting the event on for years doesn't mean you own it. You just have it. What, is he using your pictures from the parade or something? The ones that hundreds of other people took? Who cares? He probably owes you like two dollars in IP infringement. Give it up.

Jan 26, 2013 11:22 am
 Posted by  KPITG is a joke.

Hey Karen, pick up a phone and call the same people I have. The South Grand CID Director, the TGP Director, etc. Find out for yourself what a fraud this kid and this group is. Then take a copywriter class and educate yourself before trying to sound like you know what you're talking about. Oh and while you are at it, ask Angelo about his Mayor of Cheorkee self title. Ask him how taking over Chrokee went? Kid is a FRAUD looking for his 15 minutes of fame.

Jan 26, 2013 02:54 pm
 Posted by  Angelo

Hello, this is Angelo Olegna; one of the many organizers of Tower Grove Pride.

I want to state that I have never represented myself anything other than as an individual organizer. I have stated my background, experience, and work history so people know that I am a serious, responsible individual.

I have never spoken for the CID. I have never claimed to be a part of the CID. I have stated that I am an elected member of the Cherokee Station Business Association/Special Taxing District Board. If there is any confusion between the two, I apologize. I am a long-time activist on Cherokee Street, and I've recently gotten more involved in South Grand.

I have stated, which is true, that many small businesses support what we're doing. I won't name them individually because they are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves. And many, while supporting, are concerned about this fighting and worried that Pride Saint Louis is going to go after them legally for supporting us.

I have been doing special events and activism on Cherokee Street and South Grand for years now. This sort of thing is nothing new to me. Other members of our group have their own professional backgrounds and talents, which I am so very proud and grateful to be working with.

There has been tons and tons of rumor mongering, which is unfortunate. While I have made plenty of mistakes in my life, I hope everyone takes these rumors with a grain of salt. Especially when it comes from people who won't state their opinions publicly.

Additionally; I don't always say things the best way possible. I am a human being, I am flawed. Not everything I say and do is going to be correct. But at the same time I commit to what I believe in. While I have criticism for Pride Saint Louis, I had not really expected that criticism to receive the response it has.

When you stand up in public say what you think, there is always going to be criticism. I'd prefer it to be more respectful and less personal, but that's this is the internet.

I am perfectly willing to talk with anyone and work with anyone who has concerns about who I am, what I stand for, and what I'm trying to accomplish. You can easily find me on Facebook.

You can also get more updates on what's going on our facebook page:

Thanks for hearing me out everyone. I hope that we, as a community, can get past this, move on, and grow from what we're learning and doing.

Jan 26, 2013 06:29 pm
 Posted by  Keep Pride Moving Forward

So Angelo let's just putba few things to rest for all involved by you answering direct questions

1) Have you been contacted by anyone with the South Grand CID/Business Assoication and if so what were their concerns if any?

2) Were you actually offered "super super cheap rates" for use of TGP (or given free as you stated in ST Louis Mag piece) or were you in fact given the standard published rates by the park? The Director has a diff version of events than you present

3) In your PowerPoint presentation at your meeting Did you include photos and include South Grand events that the businesses tax themselves to put on in order to promote their district as being part of KPITG?

4) in the same PowerPoint did u use logos and protected materials not belonging to you or KPITG?

5) Were you asked to leave the Climatron last year when your unauthorized and unwelcome flash mob was attempted?

6) do you have approval/support from the venue for the repeat of this event?

7) your passion for Pride and the neighborhood is admirable. Can you recap what your role in volunteering, committees you sat on, meetings you attended to share your ideas, fbds donated etc over the years of Pride in TGP?

Jan 27, 2013 09:25 am
 Posted by  KarenMan

"Hey Karen, pick up a phone and call the same people I have. The South Grand CID Director, the TGP Director, etc. Find out for yourself what a fraud this kid and this group is. Then take a copywriter class and educate yourself before trying to sound like you know what you're talking about. Oh and while you are at it, ask Angelo about his Mayor of Cheorkee self title. Ask him how taking over Chrokee went? Kid is a FRAUD looking for his 15 minutes of fame" - POSTED BY KPITG IS A JOKE.

This conversation is so dark.

No, I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm no lawyer, and I'm barely involved. I do, however, know some really basic things about inclusion, leadership, and kindness. If you want to unite a community you don't single out people with personal attacks the way that's going on right now. it's actually really upsetting to me, especially considering the nature of the organization you're meant to represent. I certainly don't need to take a copywriting class to post my opinion, it's clear you can read it despite the tragic use of colloquialisms and typos that you seem to find so off-putting.

I also don't know enough to defend Angelo's actions here, and he's clearly done some stuff that rubbed you the wrong way; the main issue I'm taking here is the manner in which you choose to publicly call him out. Under anonymous accounts no less. You represent an organization, he's an individual. I'm afraid the burden of being the bigger person lies on you (organizations are, after all, just lots of people.)

I've attended some of Angelo's past events. I know he isn't out to hurt anybody, and if he's looking for 15 minutes of fame he's probably barking up the wrong tree. Either way, Pride St. Louis's reaction is a far cry more severe than Angelo's action deserve.

I won't respond again if I can help it. it appears that you are standing by how you've chosen to respond. I only hope you don't make your organization look sillier than it already does, because it represents a cause I respect and support.

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