STATEMENT FROM THE PENNSYLVANIA YOUTH CONGRESS ON PITTSBURGH PRIDE
First Statewide Organization to Call for Accountability with Pittsburgh Pride
PITTSBURGH, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Youth Congress affirms our solidarity with Roots Pride Pittsburgh, and the many local organizations and civic leaders, in denouncing the decision of the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh to present Iggy Azalea as the headline performer for Pittsburgh Pride 2015. As a social justice organization representing thousands of young LGBTQ Pennsylvanians, including many from Pittsburgh, we work tirelessly to ensure LGBTQ people of all identities have power within their organized community. We find that this year’s selected headline performer demonstrates a significant lack of respect for the LGBTQ people and people of color who have been harmed by Iggy Azalea’s actions.
For the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, prides are not only celebrations, but are annual reminders of the political tools we have to build a beloved community. In this statement, we insist that any pride which is built on the oppression of marginalized LGBTQ people is no pride at all.
A successful pride should be a family reunion that is planned and executed by the self-determination of the community. While there may be disagreements from time to time, there must be an underlying trust between local leaders. That trust has been stripped away over the years in Pittsburgh, leaving a raw desperation where people of color, transgender people, and youth leaders feel voiceless in their own city. Decisions have been made that have emaciated parts of the Pittsburgh LGBTQ community with a lack of resources, overshadowed and drowned out by the behemoth of one organization.
The Pennsylvania Youth Congress applauds the leadership of Roots Pride Pittsburgh for their work to identify strategies to raise-up LGBTQ people from marginalized backgrounds. We commend the broader Pittsburgh LGBTQ community in standing up for their own dignity.
We know it is rare for this thread of social justice to be spun so precisely as to cause numerous groups to withdraw. We commend the courage of many organizations and individuals, including Garden of Peace Project, GLSEN Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus, who have spoken up in in the spirit of building a better Pittsburgh.
The significance of Roots Pride Pittsburgh is tremendous, because it has already sent a clear message across the nation that the grassroots LGBTQ community, when organized, is able to unite and be heard.
We are distraught over the distressing position we are put in for Pittsburgh Pride 2015. The Pennsylvania Youth Congress believes we will be best able to share our vision for inspiring actualized social justice in the region through providing our resources at PrideFest. Further, we are met with the financial reality of our organization. As by far the most expensive pride in Pennsylvania for vendors, we have already invested hundreds of dollars in the fees that the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh requires. It took us four years to afford our own table at Pittsburgh Pride. At a $450 regular registration rate for non-profit organizations, Pittsburgh Pride is more expensive to participate in than all of the other nine prides in Pennsylvania combined. We believe it is outrageous that emerging community organizations have only one option if they wish to partake in their own community’s pride – to pay top dollar.
The Pennsylvania Youth Congress is accountable to our funders to engage with youth at every pride in Pennsylvania. There will be young people in Pittsburgh on June 14th, some of whom may not know about how the platform of Pittsburgh Pride 2015 was built, but they will be there. The PrideFest event still will be a significant opportunity to connect with students in order for us to support them throughout the year. We will use our presence at pride to express our displeasure with the decisions made by the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh.
We will not plan to participate in future Pittsburgh Prides unless conditions dramatically improve with accountability and transparency within the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, or whichever organization hosts a large-scale pride festival in the city.
The organized LGBTQ community should not resemble the oppressive structures which divide our society. We must build arenas to come together in authentically affirming ourselves in pride, and we commend Roots Pride Pittsburgh for doing just that. We are proud of the leaders who will not stop here in taking actions for justice throughout Pennsylvania, and in our world.
This statement has been approved by the Pennsylvania Youth Congress Board of Directors.
The Pennsylvania Youth Congress advances freedom and justice for young LGBTQ Pennsylvanians through advocating for responsible public policy. As a youth-led organization, PYC represents citizens working toward safer schools and thriving communities across the commonwealth.