First of all, I am writing this to the readers of SFGN, Hot Spots, and the Agenda in my capacity as the chairman of Pride of Greater Fort Lauderdale.
As you know, we just finished running a festival in Holiday Park last month. While it was marginally successful in balancing our budget, we failed to generate enough revenue to fulfill our mission of seeding other non-profits.
Apart from finances, the festival broke no new ground. Administratively and financially challenged, we offered more of the same, and little that was vibrant, new or inspiring. Essentially, it was a routine music festival with modest acts, subject to the elements, which served us well this year.
There were numerous events and seminars for adults and children, but the truth is there was nothing we did that was so striking or creative or innovative that it warrants starting the process all over again.
Once again, it was a small, core few who were immensely dedicated at making the festival run successfully. This is unacceptable. The same few people can’t manage Pride Fort Lauderdale year in and year out. It is time for a sea change.
Unfortunately, it was that same small group of people who gathered on Monday to hold its annual elections. Asked to submit their names in advance for nomination, less than six of a dozen board members did.
Accordingly, I concluded the best interests of the Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT community were not being served. In order to recruit new names and new blood, and find new nominees, I asked to suspend the operation of the group, and postpone any elections until the beginning of the New Year.
My goal was to ask that nominees for the Board of Pride Fort Lauderdale be opened wide to everyone in the community. My aspiration was to publicize to the local media that our doors were open, and volunteers were needed to enhance the stature and success of the organization.
Many were not receptive, and the meeting was contentious. But that is the democratic process. It was not a unilateral decision. Ironically, it came down to a tie vote.
As chair, I broke the tie by deciding in favor of my own motion. Accordingly, Pride of Fort Lauderdale did not elect anyone, but is now in fact open to everyone, regardless of its old rules.
Pride Fort Lauderdale now has a chance to represent the diversity and breadth of our community. YOU have a chance to step up to the plate and help build an organization which better represents the ethnic diversity and the cultural cross section of our gay and lesbian community. Candidly, the organization I chaired did not.
In early January, we will hold a community forum asking for public participation and input on the direction Pride Fort Lauderdale should engage going forward. The media, businesses and community leaders need to be part of that process.
Not surprisingly, last month the City of Wilton Manors dissolved its much-heralded Stonewall Entertainment Group. The truth is all of us have to ask difficult questions about these events and our organizations.
For example, do two pride groups working at opposite ends of the same fence make any sense? Should these events be more than music festivals and vendor fests?
Do these products in fact drain local businesses of limited resources by holding street fairs on weekends when there is Mack mixers and a host of other business groups holding meetings every week? How do we get a group of professionals to come together and create a board that is truly representative of the ethnic and cultural diversity of our community?
The holidays give all of us a time to reflect on new directions for the future. We can set new ground rules, create new parameters, and find new leaders and voices to move us forward. You learn in life that sometimes you have to let go in order to hold on. We need to start over and get it right.
The people who have run Pride of Fort Lauderdale, and Stonewall, too, should not be dissed. They should be celebrated for their contributions, volunteerism and community spirit. No one got paid, and many gave hours of time and personal energy. But we have seen childish and immature behavior fracture many noble causes. Our group was no different than many others. It can be a thankless task.
Our last task this year is to honor next week the organizations that underwrote our efforts this year, the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Fort Lauderdale and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Our honorees will be Nikki Grossman and Michael Kahane. Join us for a wine tasting at the Best Cellar in Wilton Manors between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. with the awards presentation at 6.