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Local gay spitfire Michael Petrelis has this to say about Pride Magazine, a publication that highlights news and Pride events all over this whole gay country: “It’s so white, the glare may blind LGBT readers.” And what he’s saying is half-true. (The other half — sorry, Michael — is bullshit.) Michael’s observation is correct — check it out yourself, and you’ll find few photos of minorities in the article and in the ads. Oh, white people, why do you have to ruin everything by existing all over the place?

Michael blames one guy — Joe — for this. That’s where the bullshit comes in, and we’ll get to that in just a minute.

Let’s talk about demographics first: it’s definitely a problem, not just in this magazine, but everywhere. Communities of color and gay communities do frequent harm to themselves when they fail to acknowledge their Venn Diagram overlap. This is bad for gays; it’s bad for people of color; and it’s a fucking tragedy when gay people of color feel their own identity torn between two fractious communities that ought to be harmonious.

Eighty percent of success is showing up; but did minorities fail to show up for us, or did we fail to show up for them?But! We’re lucky enough to have a bunch of local activists hard at work introducing minority communities to each other. Check out this amaaaaaaaazing fiery speech from Rev. Amos Brown, a minister who bellows, “though I am a Baptist, I refuse to be a bigot!” And then there’s enthusiastic Rev. Roland Stringfellow, and tireless Andrea Shorter. They are awesome, and they get results. Not all is lost. Yet.

So what happened with this Pride Magazine? Whose fault is all this whiteness? Petrelis suggests that it’s all due to one guy, Joe from JoeMyGod, who served as the magazine’s advertising director. He writes: “Couldn’t JoeMyGod and his colleagues find any living African Americans to put in the mag … on the editorial side or in the ads?” This is the bullshit part, where Petrelis just complains on his blog instead of asking the actual people involved.

We emailed Joe, and he explained, “We do happen to feature mostly white/anglo models, but not for any lack of trying to find NYC-based models-of-color or trans folk. As my many hundreds of Facebook ‘friends’ will attest, I posted numerous pleas for trans and non-white couples to appear for our photo shoot for 2009 – to no avail. … We did have two nonwhite couples scheduled, but purely by coincidence both couples begged off the day before.”

We’ve experienced the exact same problem ourselves when producing videos about Prop 8. Our casting calls were answered almost exclusively by white couples. Why is this? Maybe it reflects the demographics of the internet; or at least, the demographics of the part of the internet that we (as whites) tend to use. Eighty percent of success is showing up; but did minorities fail to show up for us, or did we fail to show up for them?

Michael’s touched on a serious problem, though he misplaced blame on a symptom (whites in a magazine) rather than the cause (disconnect between potential allies). So, what’s the solution? Seriously. We’re asking. What now?

Matt Baume is the creator of Stop8.org, and does a bunch of behind-the-scenes marriage-equality organizing.

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  • Mel Baker

    Michael Petrelis never let the lack of facts get in his way.
    For some bizarre reason this former “HIV isn’t the cause of AIDS” guy has somehow been able to regain some degree of respectability. This current example demonstrates that nothing has changed.

  • Mel Baker

    Michael Petrelis never let the lack of facts get in his way.
    For some bizarre reason this former “HIV isn’t the cause of AIDS” guy has somehow been able to regain some degree of respectability. This current example demonstrates that nothing has changed.

  • Larry-bob Roberts

    The glossy pride magazine has always been produced out of town and is out of touch, but at least they used to call up a modeling agency and get a wide color palate of skinny model types for it.

    If you want to have a diverse output, you need to have a diverse input. Every LGBT organization should be run by a core committee where each person is of a different ethnicity, gender identity or sexuality.

  • Larry-bob Roberts

    The glossy pride magazine has always been produced out of town and is out of touch, but at least they used to call up a modeling agency and get a wide color palate of skinny model types for it.

    If you want to have a diverse output, you need to have a diverse input. Every LGBT organization should be run by a core committee where each person is of a different ethnicity, gender identity or sexuality.

  • Matt Baume

    And where do you find these diverse people for the committee?

  • Matt Baume

    And where do you find these diverse people for the committee?

  • Jackson West

    Remember it’s not just an issue of race — it’s also one of class. After all, working people don’t really have a lot of time to show up to modeling auditions on the slim chance they’ll be paid a nominal fee to appear in some photo shoot. And as Venn diagrams go, in America, the non-white circle fits pretty squarely within the working class circle. Largely thanks to racism, sure, but that makes racism an indirect cause of non-representation in something like this, not a direct or proximate cause.

  • Jackson West

    Remember it’s not just an issue of race — it’s also one of class. After all, working people don’t really have a lot of time to show up to modeling auditions on the slim chance they’ll be paid a nominal fee to appear in some photo shoot. And as Venn diagrams go, in America, the non-white circle fits pretty squarely within the working class circle. Largely thanks to racism, sure, but that makes racism an indirect cause of non-representation in something like this, not a direct or proximate cause.

  • Larry-bob Roberts

    Wait a sec, Matt, you run a Stop 8 org and you don’t know how to build organization diversity? Board outreach is generally done through looking at who is sucessful in the community and has connections and inviting them to be on your board. For example:
    http://philanthropy.com/free/articles/v16/i05/05002501.htm

    Actually SF Pride has a fairly diverse committee, but the mag is contracted out to a private company, and SF Pride doesn’t have much control over it.

  • Larry-bob Roberts

    Wait a sec, Matt, you run a Stop 8 org and you don’t know how to build organization diversity? Board outreach is generally done through looking at who is sucessful in the community and has connections and inviting them to be on your board. For example:
    http://philanthropy.com/free/articles/v16/i05/05002501.htm

    Actually SF Pride has a fairly diverse committee, but the mag is contracted out to a private company, and SF Pride doesn’t have much control over it.

  • Matt Baume

    Y’know, any jackass can start an organization — just because I run Stop8.org doesn’t mean I’m actually qualified to do so. I’m just the 80% that showed up.

    Thanks for the link to the Philanthropy article — it’s a helpful insight. Unfortunately for me, the lessons in the article really only cover major organizations; as a tiny little grassroots spare-time thing, I can’t make much use of their advice about board members and training programs. But I think, with some creativity, a grassroots organizer might be able to scale down the diversity practices of larger organizations.

  • Matt Baume

    Y’know, any jackass can start an organization — just because I run Stop8.org doesn’t mean I’m actually qualified to do so. I’m just the 80% that showed up.

    Thanks for the link to the Philanthropy article — it’s a helpful insight. Unfortunately for me, the lessons in the article really only cover major organizations; as a tiny little grassroots spare-time thing, I can’t make much use of their advice about board members and training programs. But I think, with some creativity, a grassroots organizer might be able to scale down the diversity practices of larger organizations.

  • tomprete

    Matt, this is speculation, but if you’re looking for couples of color in SF, it may be that the available pool of potential people is quite small because of various social, economic and other demographic factors. In other words, you may be looking for a needle in the wrong haystack. If you need folks to be from SF, you may be stuck with a long search. However, if you can take residents of other communities, perhaps the recruitment methods you’re already using would be more fruitful there — more needles in those haystacks, maybe.

    If there aren’t any online resources with which you’re familiar (and there may not be any, I haven’t looked), I’d suggest returning to the methods any community journalist can employ when trying to find sources in a community that isn’t the one in which the journalist himself travels.

    In SF, the Planning Department maintains a list of individuals and organizations who are on its mailing list. These people and orgs often are well-connected in the community. Get the list and start contacting people in the zip codes known to have high minority populations. Many of them may tell you they don’t know any couples of color who fit your bill, but someone may have a friend, acquaintance or contact who does.

    Neighborhood merchant associations are another good place to look. Churches are good too, as are political organizers who work in the community you want to contact. Some creative googling might turn up something as well (using, say, the term “gay” in combination with the neighborhood you want). Perhaps some city agencies have contracts with nonprofit orgs in the target neighborhoods? You can get that information from them, and look for some that might have contact with the type of person you’re looking for. Neighborhood print newspapers may help as well — whether you contact them and ask for a couple of names, or take out an ad for your search.

  • tomprete

    Matt, this is speculation, but if you’re looking for couples of color in SF, it may be that the available pool of potential people is quite small because of various social, economic and other demographic factors. In other words, you may be looking for a needle in the wrong haystack. If you need folks to be from SF, you may be stuck with a long search. However, if you can take residents of other communities, perhaps the recruitment methods you’re already using would be more fruitful there — more needles in those haystacks, maybe.

    If there aren’t any online resources with which you’re familiar (and there may not be any, I haven’t looked), I’d suggest returning to the methods any community journalist can employ when trying to find sources in a community that isn’t the one in which the journalist himself travels.

    In SF, the Planning Department maintains a list of individuals and organizations who are on its mailing list. These people and orgs often are well-connected in the community. Get the list and start contacting people in the zip codes known to have high minority populations. Many of them may tell you they don’t know any couples of color who fit your bill, but someone may have a friend, acquaintance or contact who does.

    Neighborhood merchant associations are another good place to look. Churches are good too, as are political organizers who work in the community you want to contact. Some creative googling might turn up something as well (using, say, the term “gay” in combination with the neighborhood you want). Perhaps some city agencies have contracts with nonprofit orgs in the target neighborhoods? You can get that information from them, and look for some that might have contact with the type of person you’re looking for. Neighborhood print newspapers may help as well — whether you contact them and ask for a couple of names, or take out an ad for your search.

  • Larry-bob Roberts

    So it turns out SF Pride is also denouncing the magazine – from a letter to the editor they sent out:

    —-

    Flipping through the pages of the Pride 09 magazine which recently hit the streets, locals might wonder why nothing about San Francisco Pride is in the edition no features, no listings, no photos, no event information, no maps, no Grand Marshals, no stage line-ups, no accessibility information… This curious omission is no accident. The San Francisco Pride Celebration Committee was not asked to nor was involved in the production of the glossy magazine that was dropped on street corners throughout San Francisco. We are deeply concerned that community members will be left with the false impression that this magazine was officially sanctioned by San Francisco Pride, which it was not.

    Adding insult to injury, the publication contains a shocking lack of diversity the very thing for which Pride is so known. We are very concerned that a publication calling itself Pride 09 has no relationship to our local Pride Parade and Celebration and has no diversity. Our diversity is the reason that we gather as a community each year to celebrate at Pride.

    How, then, is it possible for this publication to have asserted its claim to our communitys long-standing ritual? Pride in whom? When our local community is as absent as diverse images of the people who make it up, we must ask ourselves if this publication has any relevance to the civil rights roots that gave birth to the Pride movement in the first place.

    The Pride 09 magazine is not a reflection of our communitys Pride event or of the Bay Areas LGBT community.

    We wish everyone a wonderful Pride weekend and look forward to welcoming people from all over the world to this important celebration of our diversity.


    Lindsey Jones, Executive Director
    Board President, Mikayla Connell
    Board Members:
    Nikki Calma
    Joshua Hardwick
    Kelly Hart
    Belinda Ryan
    Joshua M. Smith
    Todd Torr
    Lisa Williams
    The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee

  • Larry-bob Roberts

    So it turns out SF Pride is also denouncing the magazine – from a letter to the editor they sent out:

    —-

    Flipping through the pages of the Pride 09 magazine which recently hit the streets, locals might wonder why nothing about San Francisco Pride is in the edition no features, no listings, no photos, no event information, no maps, no Grand Marshals, no stage line-ups, no accessibility information… This curious omission is no accident. The San Francisco Pride Celebration Committee was not asked to nor was involved in the production of the glossy magazine that was dropped on street corners throughout San Francisco. We are deeply concerned that community members will be left with the false impression that this magazine was officially sanctioned by San Francisco Pride, which it was not.

    Adding insult to injury, the publication contains a shocking lack of diversity the very thing for which Pride is so known. We are very concerned that a publication calling itself Pride 09 has no relationship to our local Pride Parade and Celebration and has no diversity. Our diversity is the reason that we gather as a community each year to celebrate at Pride.

    How, then, is it possible for this publication to have asserted its claim to our communitys long-standing ritual? Pride in whom? When our local community is as absent as diverse images of the people who make it up, we must ask ourselves if this publication has any relevance to the civil rights roots that gave birth to the Pride movement in the first place.

    The Pride 09 magazine is not a reflection of our communitys Pride event or of the Bay Areas LGBT community.

    We wish everyone a wonderful Pride weekend and look forward to welcoming people from all over the world to this important celebration of our diversity.


    Lindsey Jones, Executive Director
    Board President, Mikayla Connell
    Board Members:
    Nikki Calma
    Joshua Hardwick
    Kelly Hart
    Belinda Ryan
    Joshua M. Smith
    Todd Torr
    Lisa Williams
    The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee

  • be_devine

    Thanks Larry-bob for posting the official Pride response to the unofficial magazine.

    I know Lindsey Jones and a number of the members of the Board of Pride, and I can assure you that this unofficial magazine does not reflect the Pride organization’s commitment to diversity. Anyone who’s feeling like the active LGBT community is too white should take a look at Pride’s Grand Marshals over the years.

    Thankfully, our active LGBT community in SF is very diverse. And SF Pride does a great job of recognizing the people of all colors in our community who are making a difference. William Beasley and Andrea Shorter are perfect examples of people who are making a difference across the Venn Diagram of communities to which they belong.

    The unofficial magazine does not represent Pride, and it does not represent my community. It represents only a crude attempt to make a few bucks off the gay community by commercializing the Pride celebration. So it really should come as no surprise that it has zero sensitivity to our community, let alone the diversity of our community.

  • be_devine

    Thanks Larry-bob for posting the official Pride response to the unofficial magazine.

    I know Lindsey Jones and a number of the members of the Board of Pride, and I can assure you that this unofficial magazine does not reflect the Pride organization’s commitment to diversity. Anyone who’s feeling like the active LGBT community is too white should take a look at Pride’s Grand Marshals over the years.

    Thankfully, our active LGBT community in SF is very diverse. And SF Pride does a great job of recognizing the people of all colors in our community who are making a difference. William Beasley and Andrea Shorter are perfect examples of people who are making a difference across the Venn Diagram of communities to which they belong.

    The unofficial magazine does not represent Pride, and it does not represent my community. It represents only a crude attempt to make a few bucks off the gay community by commercializing the Pride celebration. So it really should come as no surprise that it has zero sensitivity to our community, let alone the diversity of our community.

  • JoeMyGod

    Pride’09 is the official annual magazine of InterPride (www.InterPride.org), the international governing body of gay Pride committees, of which SF Pride is a member.

    For them or any others to profess no knowledge of the magazine and to characterize it as “unofficial” after 13 years of production under the InterPride banner is, to put it mildly, disingenuous. In fact, for many years a special San Francisco edition of Pride was produced, for which a substantial fee was paid every year to SF Pride.

    As you are all no doubt aware, the internet and the economy have wreaked havoc in the print world and three years ago it became financially unfeasible to produce the multiple local versions. Therefore, only a national edition of the magazine remains in production. It wouldn’t make much sense to include SF-related information such as Grand Marshals, etc…when the same magazine is distributed in NYC, LA, etc.

    Please pick up a copy of Pride09 and enjoy *diverse* editorial features such as examination of the plight of gay Arabs in Iraq, the state of the vanishing gayborhood, Obama’s lack of response to the LGBT community, a travel guide to gay Istanbul, and more. Openly lesbian news anchor Rachel Maddow is on the cover and has some very insightful commentary on the state of the LGBT movement.

  • JoeMyGod

    Pride’09 is the official annual magazine of InterPride (www.InterPride.org), the international governing body of gay Pride committees, of which SF Pride is a member.

    For them or any others to profess no knowledge of the magazine and to characterize it as “unofficial” after 13 years of production under the InterPride banner is, to put it mildly, disingenuous. In fact, for many years a special San Francisco edition of Pride was produced, for which a substantial fee was paid every year to SF Pride.

    As you are all no doubt aware, the internet and the economy have wreaked havoc in the print world and three years ago it became financially unfeasible to produce the multiple local versions. Therefore, only a national edition of the magazine remains in production. It wouldn’t make much sense to include SF-related information such as Grand Marshals, etc…when the same magazine is distributed in NYC, LA, etc.

    Please pick up a copy of Pride09 and enjoy *diverse* editorial features such as examination of the plight of gay Arabs in Iraq, the state of the vanishing gayborhood, Obama’s lack of response to the LGBT community, a travel guide to gay Istanbul, and more. Openly lesbian news anchor Rachel Maddow is on the cover and has some very insightful commentary on the state of the LGBT movement.