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 STLMAG.com 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.
FOLLOWING IS OUR REBUTTAL:
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: http://interpride.org/
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."