Philly Pride Problems: What the Community is Saying

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Last week on G Philly, we shared two stories that provided a sobering view of Philadelphia’s Pride celebration — one article revealed results from a national survey that rated Philly Pride one of the worst in the country, the other served as commentary on why Pride seems stagnant and what we could do to change it. As you may expect, folks weighed in loud and clear. So we’re here today to share some of that feedback, which provides an eye-opening look at what specifically irks people about Pride — namely the location, expensive admission, and lousy talent. For the sake of balance, we also round up comments from folks who say Pride should be left as is. That section includes a statement from Pride organizer Franny Price.

“Pride Needs a Make-Over”

“Problem #1 is that, while I’m sure they’re dedicated and hard-working,  the organizers seem to think there is no problem. Yes, there will always be some degree of attendance – youth who have no where else to go will always attend. Those who feel drinking in public is an amazing way to show their pride will always attend. Those who refuse to let an underwhelming event ruin their pride will always attend. And of course, those who have never been to another city for Pride will always attend – not knowing what they really deserve. Sadly, it is 2014 and our great community deserves more than third rate talent – and having to pay for it to boot. And while we all love the drag queens, our celebration of pride should reflect all of us, our community is more than just drag queens.”—Chumley Singer

Having it the same weekend as DC Pride is certainly a detractor. Also the fact that we never seem to book any ‘big names’ makes people indifferent as to wanting to actually go out to the events. When cities like DC, NYC, Chicago, etc. include both popular pop artists, up and coming artists, as well as local talent, they attract the entire community. Philly pride seems more focused on serving a small subset of the community that a majority of people don’t relate with.”—Ryan Foster

Hiking up the price definitely did not work! I don’t understand how Voyeur can attract the likes of RuPaul’s Drag Race stars yet [the same performers] flock to other cities to feature in Pride events. [Why pay] $15 to watch a bunch of drunk underage kids and vendors who want more of my money, for what?  Being gay?”—Jewellee Williams

“I’ve been to lots of other Pride in smaller cities and Philly has lots of room for improvement. I honestly think that part of the problem is that the event is diluted by having Outfest and the spring event. It’s also time to up the entertainment; two of the six original Village People is really out of date. I’d suggest a change of venue too … it’s nice to have the big stage, but move the event to the street like maybe Broad Street.”—Tom Schneck

“I didn’t even go this year, as the entertainment was the same as I saw in Iowa City Pride circa 1995. I love our community, but our Pride celebration needs some updating and modernizing“—Melissa Billings

“Hold the vendors and small acts in the Gayborhood after the parade. At night, have a pier dance party with good DJ’s and a major recording artist performing before a fireworks finale. Other major cities do and they have a huge success. Philadelphia is becoming a destination for many LGBT travelers; it’s time that our leaders use our resources to our advantage.”—Jayson Messner

“The parade is fine but the festival at Penn’s Landing is pretty sad, and certainly not worth the $15 ticket. Cities that are smaller than Philly seem to have no trouble booking better entertainment. I’m still in disbelief that Omarosa was the headliner last year.”—Andy Davis

The committee needs to shake things up. I volunteered for the organizing committee about 10 years back, and its filled with hard-working folks who mean well, but they weren’t open to new ideas. I think they should try to find an up-and-coming (inexpensive) event planning professional to come in and turn things on its head, but that’s doubtful given how much the normal person on these committees hate change.”—Anthony Lower

Our Pride sucks. I’ve wanted to get involved in organizing it for years but haven’t been able to figure out how. My feeling is that there are leadership issues. Who is the executive director? Who is on the board? Who is making the programming decisions and how are they being made? None of this information is on the website.”—Meg

“Take a look at the demographic of attendees at Pride. You need to base your Pride festival off of who your attendees are to keep them coming back. Young people know that Pride is a safe place to express themselves, so we need to bring them to the table for the discussion as well. Every year I loathe the time of Pride, but can’t wait for Outfest. While the numbers were astounding for Pride this year, how many of them are reccurring attendees. I applaud the effort that is put forth by the committee to create this event as we all know it is not a small feat. However, let’s get some new ideas to the table and bring those into the discussion who will be attending Pride for years to come.”—Caitlin

“Having visited Pride in a few other cities in recent years, I can say from experience that Philly Pride is not what it should be. Much smaller cities put on much better Pride events. San Diego Pride is amazeballs. Heck, even ALBANY, NY puts on a considerably better Pride event! I enjoyed the parade this year in the Gayborhood, but in past years I viewed it toward the end, on Market, and it was pathetic. I personally can’t stand to be out in the blazing sun on that hot concrete of Penn’s Landing during the day. They need to move it to the Gayborhood. Or it could at least be more of a Saturday evening festival following an afternoon parade.”—Rich Brome

“Pride is Fine the Way It Is”

We thought it was great! The weather was good, the parade enjoyable, the entertainment fun (although probably difficult for younger audiences to relate to), and the people were nice. We’re heading to NYC for theirs in a few weeks. Will see about a comparison then.”—Ed Williams

It’s rather difficult to say the Philly Pride sucks when you look at the attendance at the Plaza this past Sunday. From the stage where I was photographing, there wasn’t a space anywhere to be seen. The crowd went up to the 2nd tier with no space for anyone.”—Patrick Hagerty

Philly has among the best LGBT communities and events nationally in my view. I disagree that people in other cities have an inaccurate negative view of Philadelphia events, because that is not my personal experience at all.”—Luke

The men and women who put on Philly Pride and OutFest do a lot of hard work for the community. Speaking from someone not affiliated with them, I would bet money that they do not get as much help as they would like in setting these up. I’d venture to guess that Philly Pride would be a lot better (which in my opinion it has been getting better every year) if more people volunteered to help them.”—Josh Hill

People should research how much it costs for permits, insurance, police, security or how much it costs to book all these other entertainers people suggest, because in doing so you’d realize how often event coordinators go through several ideas for headliners and entertainers, but because of scheduling conflicts or certain financial requirements, it’s not possible to book them”—Price Les

Thousands of people celebrated Pride in Philly Sunday. We have heard nothing but positive things, it was the best Pride ever. Thanks G Philly for printing negativity about ur city. —Pride Organizer Franny Price

Not quite satistfied with that response from Price, we reached out to her to see if she was gleaning any helpful ideas from the feedback commenters had submitted. She sent the following response via text:

I don’t [pay] them any mind!!! [None] of them names are posted anything we do! Matter of fact G Philly didn’t even have a table to show support to the community they want to read their post. Also this was a record year and we gave hundreds of more emails saying this was the best ever, and was at a meeting [Wednesday] morning with 22 directors of every big organization in our local community slashing G Philly for posting that — insulting all the people who participated who are from Philly. They had a great time. And not one person who responded ever, ever organize anything this big in their life. Further more 2 years ago our poster was attacked, not one person who commented, volunteered or offered their help in creating ads for us. So these people who don’t do anything this big cant wait to feed off of all the hard work 22 people do. They see thousands and thousands people from all the pictures and that speaks louder than a few people who do nothing, or a gay magazine that dont even have a table. Shame.”

We explained that this wasn’t a personal attack. Franny Price is an important part of our community. We applaud the work she has done for more than 20 years to put together the festival. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. Why not make it as big and badass as it can be? Are wrong in thinking this?

We’re curious about what you think. Would you mind taking a second to weigh in in our poll?

POLL: What Do You Think About Philly Pride?

Additional reporting by Josh Middleton

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  • Chumley

    at the risk of being redundant… “Problem #1 is that, while I’m sure they’re dedicated and hard-working, the organizers seem to think there is no problem.”

  • Just saying

    wow… sounds like someone doesn’t like negative feedback

  • Richard

    Fanny’s response sums up the problems period.

  • Joe in Philly

    Wow…that reply by Franny Price is one of the most arrogant, ignorant comments I’ve ever seen. If you’re putting on an event, the attendees are your CUSTOMERS. And that is an absolutely DISGRACEFUL way to reply to your CUSTOMERS. Maybe there needs to be a boycott — not just say “I won’t go” but an active campaign — of Philly Pride and Outfest and anything else they’re involved with.

    • Price Les

      You referred to yourself as a customer? It’s a event thrown for the community and the proceeds are used to fund Outfest and pay the city. It’s not a product your purchasing or a fine dining experience that you are paying out out the ass for, so it makes you feel entitled to have a voice. People pay to see several concerts at Penns landing with no named talent that only last a 2-3hrs at most and people pay more than $20 for tickets all year long. So $15 for 5-6 hrs of pride, vendors, food, dancing and entertainment. Sounds like you get more than you pay for… Even matinée movies are $12 nowadays!!

      • KPhilly

        Price Les, this is where you are wrong. We as the community are the customers. We pay a fee to attend the events. That is an exchange of money, for entertainment. It’s a simple definition. Also, what we are paying for is the entertainment. I don’t think that $15.00 is too much, especially since allot of that goes into paying for outfest. However, to act as though we are paying for food, and venders, is quite laughable. The Venders pay to be there, and we pay the venders for their products. It’s not included in the admission fee, and the same goes for the food. Attendance is not proof of success. Return attendence is, as well as general word of mouth. Perhaps if the entertainment was better, there would be less moaning…

        I agree with Joe in Philly, The response from Franny Price, should simply be “We are looking into the comments to see how we can make Philly Pride 2015 even better!” No one is attacking the hard work done by the committee, People just want to see something equal to, or better than what other smaller cities have. Why is it I can’t even look up the attendance to Philly pride? Perhaps I’m not looking in the right places. I would think it’d be right on the Philly Pride Website.

        I believe there are things that can be rectified by simply contacting, and collaberating with other citiy pride committees and see what they do that works, and collaberate on what we can do to make ours better. Perhaps it is the fact that we are competeting with Nathional Pride, or the location. I don’t think it should be held in the gayborhoo, because that’s what makes Outfest Magical. Philly is not lacking in large spaces to hold events. Where is the openess, and transparency showing that other options have been sought out?

      • Jen

        You’re not even gay.

        • Price Les

          Both of my Parents are openly gay! I was raised by the community and have been been volunteering since I was a teen for multiple organizations in the community. My sexual preference shouldn’t be a topic lol I guess what it comes down to is everyone has opinion. But just like a concert, event or party if you are successful each time. Your not going to change because a few hundred out of thousands don’t approve. If the attendance was lacking or there was hundreds of people. Instead of a few people commenting on G philly’s post. Then that would be different. But I stood backstage from a completely packed crowd from 12-530 and I saw a balance of seniors, adults and youth full of energy and interacting the entire time. So what it comes down to is a few compared to many who didn’t enjoy themselves or chose not to attend because of who they prefer to see as entertainment. It’s funny Wendy Ho who was an internet sensation, Aikira who was American Idol and Well strung were all amazing talent who the younger generations follow and aware of weren’t even mentioned. Because the only only real complaints were the village people. Who coincidentally had kids interacting as dancing as well…

      • Joe in Philly

        If you offer ANY kind of service — whether someone pays a lot of money for it or just a little — and whether or not there’s a physical product (such as buying something in a store) or an experience (concerts, sporting events, Pride) — the people who are interested in accepting that service ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS. If your customers aren’t happy, eventually they become your FORMER customers.

        And while I keep hearing about record attendance, it looked no more or less crowded than it has in any other year. It would be nice to see an accounting of the actual numbers over the years, as well as how many people were comped, such as volunteers and people like myself who marched in the parade.

  • Gee, the organizer does not endear herself at all to those with a view opposite to hers. Whenever you service the public it’s important to at least acknowledge those who object to your way of doing things. The article I read on G Philly was nowhere near a slam of Philly’s pride event. If you begin to hear murmuring of people wanting change, it’s time to brainstorm on what you can do differently – not shut those people down.

  • Jonathan

    The biggest problem seems to be not that philly pride is extremely underwhelming – but the fact that the organizing committee seems to think that it is perfect.

  • AA

    I cannot believe the response from the organizer….in the words of the great Nene Leakes, “So nasty and so rude!”

  • Meg

    My suspicion of leadership issues was confirmed by that defensive non-response that she gave.

  • Dragon

    I didn’t go this year although I went last year. I walked around a bit and left after an hour. The most exciting booth was the “Dunk A Dyke.” It seems like the same same show year after year. The only thing that has changed since I started going in 1993 is the price! I’d rather head to the beach with my friends for the weekend than to stay in a hot city for the same old same old again and again and again.

    Hey Franny Price – how about giving Denise Cohn a call and you can cool off at the “Dunk A Dyke” booth.

  • Antony

    I knew Franny personally from 20 some years ago, but havent spoken to her in years. She’s smart, capable and passionate. However, her response shows the issue loud and clear -folks involved think the end result of their labor represents what a big city celebration should look like when it doesn’t. A glance at the amature quality of the pride site (its lack of social media aspects in specific) speaks volumes as well. I happened to be in Nashville this past weekend for their Pride. Mary Lambert from Macklemoore fame was one of their headliners. Their festival and stage show was awesome and stood far above ours. I’ll always attend Philly Pride to take part in the community, but I can’t pretend its not dry and boring as is…

  • Mike

    I’ve spoken to a couple of people who have tried to volunteer for the Philly Pride Presents. Franny is more than happy to have help, as long as they do things EXACTLY as Franny wants them done. There is no other option if you want to volunteer. It’s Franny’s way or the highway. Thanks for all you have done in the past for the community Franny, now release your stranglehold on our city’s pride event, step aside, and let some some new blood bring new vision, new energy, fresh ideas, and a different perspective to our celebration. Our community deserves that much.

    • NS

      Maybe it’s time that Franny was replaced with new leadership that has fresh ideas and a different approach.

      • Maddie

        Calling Josh Schonewolf!

  • Carlos

    They need to bring Josh Schonewolf into the mix. He knows how to throw amazing events that have heart! Why hasn’t this happened yet?

  • Adam

    What everyone is saying is true. And the problem is obvious. What we have here is a hyper-sensitive bully who degrades the opposition, intimidates potential volunteers, ignores advice and lines her own pockets with the attendees’ money. And her writing skills! Is she serious? What talent manager would respond to her emails? Possibly Fantasia’s. What’s the point in skirting the issue? She needs to be gone before any progress can be made.

  • Irish856

    I agree with Frannie… Why did Philly Mag/ G-Philly not have a booth as well as a float in the Parade??? That question was asked last week also… did I miss a response??

    NOW… If the text is posted as she wrote it… Then if I were a bar owner, I would call a meeting of all the others and suggest that they stop funding the event… without the Bars, Franny has no money.

    “I don’t [pay] them any mind!!!”