Pride marches on
|By Eric Gallippo|
Organizers regroup, reach out to keep annual festival going
This year the organizers of the statewide gay pride festival and march, an annual Lansing event, almost threw in the towel.
But Goch said the board got an overwhelming response from people asking the leadership to please go forward with the event and even offering to volunteer. As a result, this year’s Pride Festival already has 82 volunteers compared to last year’s 25.
Goch, a leader of Suits and the City, a networking club for LGBT professionals, was asked in March to join the Pride board as outreach coordinator. Since then she’s been putting her connections to work, forming a subcommittee to round up sponsors and community support for this year’s Pride. “Large sponsorships are few and far between now,” Goch said. “It used to be you’d have sponsorships of considerable size from auto dealers, banks. That went way down. Even the national sponsors have gone down. So our object is to reach out to the community.”
Goch said 125 donations have already been made toward the event, totally around $3,200 in gift cards, services and items. “I’m relatively sure it’s going to wipe out the debt, plus have another couple thousand to go toward the festival,” Goch said.
In year’s past, Goch said the Pride Festival has cost as much as $90,000, depending on national talent and how many attend. Last year’s festival cost about $68,000. This year’s budget will be scaled back to between $30,000 and $50,000, depending on how much sponsorship can be brought in.
Despite the reduced budget, Goch expects a boost in attendance due to the festival’s returning to Father’s Day weekend (June 13), which means it won’t compete with the draw of nearby Chicago Pride events, and a possible radio promotion deal with stations in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Detroit.
Goch explained that the idea of wearing all white was started about 20 years ago as a symbol of purity, and is being incorporated into the pre-party as a sign of unity for the entire LGBT community.
But with the help of community leaders, including At-Large City Councilwoman Carol Wood, Goch said a new route has been developed. Starting at Riverfront Park, marchers will head west on Shiawassee Street, then either south on Washington Square to Michigan Avenue or to Capitol Avenue and on to the Capitol steps.
Keep Pride Alive Brunch
Noon-3 p.m. Sunday, April 19 Radisson Hotel, 111 N. Grand Ave., Lansing $20 advance/$25 at door www.michiganpride.org