Delta Foundation to host meeting to address Pittsburgh Pride backlash tonight | Blogh

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Delta Foundation to host meeting to address Pittsburgh Pride backlash tonight

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 2:05 PM

Just 24 hours after announcing Iggy Azalea will no longer headline this year's Pride festival, the Delta Foundation is hosting a meeting tonight with many of those who have accused it of excluding marginalized members of the LGBT community, including queer and trans people of color.

But details of the meeting, whose invitation describes it as an effort to "work on potential solutions, and gather ideas on how we can work together now and in the future," have been largely kept secret and initially excluded some of Delta's most vocal critics.

Gary Van Horn, president of Delta's board, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Titled "Finding Common Ground," the invitation describes the event as "an activity to facilitate respectful discussion on topics with parties who have differing views, but actually WANT to work together."

click to enlarge Delta Foundation to host meeting to address Pittsburgh Pride backlash tonight
Photo by Alex Zimmerman
Bruce Kraus at a morning press conference with Delta Foundation critics
But at a press conference this morning, Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus, the city's first openly gay politician, said he has "not been invited to those discussions." Kraus, who announced last week that he would boycott Delta's Pride festivities, said, "I would be more than happy to serve in any capacity to see that this table that has been set for LGBTQIA people in Pittsburgh is as inclusive as the rainbow flag that represents us."

Also snubbed, at least initially, was "Roots Pride Pittsburgh," an alternative pride event whose supporters have argued Delta does not include queer and trans people of color, among other marginalized groups. Joy KMT, a Roots Pride organizer, says she was invited late last night — "which poses some challenges and barriers to participation" — but still plans to attend.

Asked why she would attend the meeting, despite calling it a "PR move" in a press conference moments earlier, she says,  "We will represent our community in all spaces and speak truth in all spaces."

Representatives of New Voices Pittsburgh, GLSEN, Cafe con Leche, Dreams of Hope, Judah Fellowship and others have signaled they are attending on the group's online invitation list.

But even among those who were invited from the start, concerns were raised about Delta setting the parameters of the conversation. In a discussion board connected to Delta's online invitation, Dreams of Hope executive director Seth Rosenberg wrote: "Disturbingly, it appears none of the coordinators of Roots Pride were invited. Given that, I think we all have to wonder what the point of this meeting is. I understand that there is always someone who gets missed when you create an invitation list, and those who were invited have the opportunity to invite others, but when you omit all of the most vocal critics, it is hard to think it was not intentional."

Still, Rosenberg is listed as a "yes" on the event's online guest list.

The "host" of the event seems to be UPMC's Candi Castleberry Singleton, whose phone number is listed in one post on the event's discussion board under the handle, "Dignity & Respect (host)." Her UPMC bio notes she "launched the UPMC Center for Engagement and Inclusion. Her recent efforts include the Dignity & Respect Campaign."

"Because the of size of the group we are trying to coordinate a professional mediator," a post under the "Dignity & Respect (host)" handle reads. "I intended to call individuals from the initial list to find out who else should be invited," but an unexpected "family emergency" initially slowed that outreach.

Moments ago, an update was sent out to attendees that reads "we heard your voice" and which changed the meeting location from Delta Foundation's headquarters to the Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church in the North Side. The message also says two professional mediators will facilitate the discussion, set for 6 p.m.

Sue Kerr, who blogs at Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, has not been invited to the discussion and is critical of the way it was set up. "It’s important to have dialogue to respond to people's concerns, but this has been haphazardly thrown together,” she says. "If there had been transparency in the planning process, I would have more faith in it. But that’s the critique of Delta all along."

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