Pittsburgh’s annual Pride celebration will have new leadership next year. Trans YOUniting and the PGH LGBTQ Coalition say they will oversee the June festival and parade in 2021.
The annual celebration has been put on by the Delta Foundation in recent years, but over the weekend, Delta's board voted to dissolve the organization. Members said without revenue from Pride 2020, they were financially unable to continue. Critics of the group allege mismanagement of funds, following the resignation of its longtime board president Gary Van Horn, who left while facing criminal charges. After Van Horn’s departure, then-interim president Jim Sheppard launched an internal review of Delta’s finances, which was recently turned over to the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office.
“Pittsburgh Pride will be inclusive and a safe space for all members of the LGBTQ community,” said PGH LGBTQ Coalition founder Kenny West. “This is something moving forward, this is about inclusivity and diversity and this is about bringing love back to a community that needs healing.”
West’s comments at a Monday afternoon press conference hinted at criticism of the Delta-run Pride, which many say was catered to a white, cisgender and affluent audience. The June 4-6, 2021 festival, West said, “will be a Pride for the people and will be affordable for the people.”
The coalition said it was open to working with any other LGBTQ group in the city, and offered its website and contact information for those wishing to be vendors, entertainers or collaborators.
Dena Stanley with Trans YOUniting said the festival will take place in Downtown Pittsburgh, with a parade on June 5 and an “LGBTQ+ BBQ on June 6.” She added that they’re looking into bringing in popular entertainers, much like Delta had with performers like Kesha and Toni Braxton.
Organizers said in addition to the 2021 Pride planning, they would also begin a “weekly justice program.” Dalen Michael, who holds leadership positions in both groups, said a rally would take place each Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the City County Building. The gathering will include a list of demands the demonstrators are asking of Pittsburgh Police and state legislators.
“We want all charges and all citations dropped again Pittsburgh activists, especially Dena Stanley, Nique Craft and Lorenzo Rulli,” Michael said. “We will be marching until our demands are met.”
Other requests include bringing more Black leadership to the Pittsburgh Police Department; making the Civil Affairs unit of the police an official full-time unit with all Black leadership; and a seat on the Community Police Review Board.
Three other demands included the removal of Section 508 of the state criminal code, the abolition of the Wilkinsburg Police Department and mandated body cameras for all police statewide. These align with other area-activist calls, specifically those of the group Black, Young and Educated; Pittsburgh, I Can’t Breathe; and Dannielle Brown.