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Clik Magazine vs. Atlanta Pride Committee

Whose butt should we be kicking?

by j. brotherlove

SXSW was a blast! To say I have a lot of work to do with this blog and elsewhere is an understatement. Imagine my surprise upon returning to Atlanta to find the gay “community” in a state of flux. The nuts and bolts: After submitting a proposal for in-kind media sponsorship to the Atlanta Gay Pride Committee, Clik Magazine (formerly Clikque) is rejected and offered the opportunity to purchase booth space instead. Clik responded by blasting everyone with an email suggesting the rejection was racially motivated. In turn, Donna Narducci, Executive Director of the Atlanta Pride Committee (APC) sent a well-crafted apology that Clik’s Dwight Powell has rejected.

Where do I start?

First, let me tell you how I react to claims against organizations or other people; I seek the facts. He say, she say is very 6th grade and a poor way to make important decisions. Very little “facts” were given in Clik’s original blast email. Yet, representatives from the black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (BLGBT) wasted no time jumping on the racist bandwagon and running circles around APC.

The lack of black faces at main gay Pride has always been a sore spot with me. To give some perspective, the black population in cities with Pride celebrations are considerably smaller than their white counterpart. So what happens when the city in question in has a sizeable BLGBT population, such as Chicago or Atlanta? Well, nothing, actually. Overall, black gay folk elect to self-segregate and simply do not show up at “white” Pride events. The most common excuse given is that main Pride events aren’t interested in black people and don’t address our needs or concerns. This cop-out is counterproductive and only partially true.

I want to revisit something Lynne said in Austin while we ate BBQ at Ironworks (much to her stomach’s detriment). We were discussing the effectiveness of having a Blogging While Black panel at SXSW (a largely white, male event) vs. hosting our own black technology/blogging conference. Lynne stated that having our own is great but stressed that it’s important for us to show up at events organized by whites because it forces the “conversation”. Otherwise, why would we expect “them” to come to “us”? Amen, sista.

Clik publishes an attractive magazine and plans parties for the black gay community. However, as a black, gay business, their history of bolstering our community through altruistic efforts is sketchy. The publication also has a reputation for publishing other people’s content without permission, dishonoring its own contracts and editing articles so carelessly, the spelling and grammar errors detract from the content. That may sound petty. But, I want to make the point that no organization is perfect. I agree that APC should do a better job of including the black community but it is our job, as black, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, to attend existing events and show that we want to be included.

When we start pointing fingers at others for not supporting us it is only fair to turn that finger at our own communities. In the past years, there has been a trend for new organizations to branch out and start alternate pride events for gay people of color. While I certainly support people following a vision, the effect is that these new events are watered down because everyone is chasing the same, small demographic. This Memorial Day weekend, we have three major destinations (and countless smaller events) vying for the BLGBT dollar. The effect would be more pronounced if some of these organizers joined forces. I would like to see the revival of a national black conference aimed at addressing our needs as black gay people.

Most importantly, where is the support from our black businesses? If we need a target outside of ourselves, I urge my people to look at the local and national black businesses we choose to patronize on a regular basis and question why they do not support our welfare. If you compare the caliber of businesses who support main gay Prides (national liquor, media, automobile companies) to those who support the black, gay counterparts (mostly local businesses, gay publications, AIDS organizations), the disparity is apparent, with a few isolated exceptions. In fact, I can’t think of any black mainstream company that has ever sponsored a plack Pride event. Chew on that.

I understand some will be up in arms about the Clik Magazine situation, I echo Prime’s call for black people to support their own, local black Pride organizations. Let’s put our money where our mouth is.

pub: 03/16/2006 | previous entry | next entry | feedback x 9 | subscribe
1. Greg

Thank you for a well written article. Thank you for seeking out the facts and stating them very well.

Atlanta Pride, like most Pride organizations, is a majority VOLUNTEER organization. Change from within is the best way to do change. I urge ALL people who feel underrepresented to step up and be accountable. Have your voice heard and make change, dont just sit and complain.

Thanks for letting me talk.

Well, heres my 39cents plus tax, first let me say, thanks for your perspective, it was enlightening. Being part of the black LGBT population, (because the community has not yet been formed and/or identified)I often struggle with whether or not to participate in events designed, hosted, and targeted toward our european counterparts, even when I show up theres this feeling of should I be here, but that quickly vanishes when I think of one of the themes of ITLA Black Pride or was it National Black LGBT Leadership Forum that asked the question, “When and where do we come in?” So I’m in, not only am I in, but willing to with some support rekindle the flame that was NBLGLF. (Ok I just placed my perverbial hat in the ring)

As for the INFORAGS, I still am at odds with them because the claim that they represent the balck populous, and members og the BLGBT population say it also, but so many of us are not repersented in it, and it tell most of us that if we dont look a certain way, dress and wear our hair a certain way then we are not the black LGBT individuals that fit into the word they so uneducatedly use, community.

Feeling a sense of belonging, or having something one can call their own is nice, but not really readily available, even when the event and/or establishment is,”totally of color” black owned and operated, forusbyus, black by design, gay owned and operated these still yes even these come with stigma tto those it says they are designed to reach and provide services for.

So I concur, go, go boldly to the throne of any and all events, black, white, and others, the song says somewhere theres a place for us, hell we are already in and at that place, we just dont participate, invest in you, your community, and anywhere you choose, but invest in something or shut up! and when you are invited to the table whether the invite is sincere or not go, learn, participate, share, observe, absorb, and then leave and shear all that you have gathered with others, thats the glue that with foster cohesiveness, and put division and negativity out of their misery.

Nothing is wrong with self-segregation, just know that you are there because you want to be not because you have to be.

Science do with it what you will.


4. Roger Payne

I find your article alarming and I question myself why we as people of color are quick to put each other down opposed to uplifting each other.
You mention that you “Seek the facts” but I would like to know were you got your facts from? Have you tried to contact the The Atlanta Gay Committee or CLIK??
Or was the limited information that you seem to gather from The Atlanta Gay Committee incorrect. It sounds to me like you are little bitter of the success of others…. I wonder Why?
Before we are quick to point fingers in any situation you should really do as you say and “Seek the facts” not the half truths. I would love to know what evidence you found when you “ SEEKED”. Before making articles like these you should follow them with substantial evidence and let others make their judgement and not make those catty false accusations. Is The Atlanta Gay Committee spreading rumors and are afraid that the false information they are providing will come light.

Thank you for responding Roger. Unfortunately, although you criticize me for not reporting the facts, you haven’t provided any for your own in your comment. Your passion for uplifting people of color has clouded your ability to understand the main point of this post. In short, the era of focusing on how “the white man has done us wrong” has ended. It is time to put the onus where it belongs, on us. This doesn’t mean we allow others to mistreat our communities. But we must also evaluate our role in injustice.

As for my “catty false accusations”, I have first-hand knowledge of everything I have written about both organizations including, their public communications. I am not affiliated with either organization and clearly state that both have housekeeping issues.

I admit my claim that Clik’s “history of bolstering our community through altruistic efforts is sketchy” is loaded. However, from numerous conversations I have had with others, I hold this belief to be true. I happily invite you to list instances to disprove that statement.

You accuse me of putting others down but did you fully read this post? I actually encourage readers to support local, black Pride organizations (something Clik publisher, Dwight Powell would agree to, as well). The reason you are left wondering why I am “bitter of the success of others” is simple. I am not. I have a long history of working in and with organizations that seek to uplift each other. I take pride when people follow their passion and establish successful businesses – especially black people.

You state “I would love to know what evidence you found when you ‘SEEKED’” But if you read the post again, you will see the results of my investigation. Whether or not you agree with my opinion, of course, is entirely up to you and outside my locus of control.

The notion of there being more black faces at main pride events is idealistic and honorable, but not very real. I myself have been to all types of prides and had a blast, but there’s a large majority of gay black men who feel there’s nothing there for them (which is kind of odd considering the number of black gay men that complain about Black Pride).

It’s hard to ignore that there’s an overwhelming feeling of exclusion when it comes to white gay culture. Some of the shit that appeals to them just don’t appeal to all of us, and I’m just being plain honest. We are very quick to say things like “stand up” and “do this” and “do that” without looking at the basics—

there’s just some shit we AIN’T gon’ do.

Besides, not many of my straight black friends go to straight white clubs or show up at their events. It’s not racism or self-segregation. It’s apples and oranges.

“there’s a large majority of gay black men who feel there’s nothing there for them (which is kind of odd considering the number of black gay men that complain about Black Pride).”

Exactly, nOva! We complain about main pride; we complain about black pride. It appears, we cannot be pleased.

I can find my way in any environment but yes, there are distinct differences between white and black gay culture that the larger population doesn’t understand.

8. Jay Cara

The simple fact that many blacks feel there is nothing for them at all cannot be ignored. because to a large degree it is very true. You are talking to a person who lives in Boston. There is no real black gay community because people keep moving away, sick of how things are. Many gay clubs refuse to host a hip hop night, stating such things and i quote “we don’t want to attract that kind of crowd” “we don’t want to attract the wrong element”. And yes this came from the mouth of two seperate managers, back when i was a bouncer at a club called Machine. Most of the “white” gay prides do nothing to reach out to any other community. Why do you think Blacks and Latino’s even started there own prides? Clearly theres this big exclusion factor, not just at pride, but with white gay culture as a whole. Clubs/Pride events won’t play the music that attracts diversity (I don’t know about you, but listening from Circuit house music ALL week long at EVERY event is just not my idea of a good time.), In their Pride flyers and advertisments it’s 99.9% white faces, they don’t promote to different communities, So can you BLAME people for self segregating to events when they are tired of fighting? I fail to see how Clik magazine jumped to a wrong conclusion, given the overall picture, past experiences. Let’s not pretend that what Clik said does not occur, Let’s not pretend that white prides actively try to reach other demographics other then whites. Boston is a prime example of this behavior, and you know what the sad thing is?? The head of the pride commity is a Black man, but i guess others would refer to him as a “snow queen”. He doesn’t support/attend black events, or local black organizations, so it’s clear he couldn’t care less. And i know for a fact that past black gay organizations have TRIED to be involved with the Pride commity, with less then subpar results, so people gave up. Boston tries unsuccessfully i might add, to have its own black pride event, it’s called “Unity Pride”, where they try to reach out to people of color (not just black) to have something to do the week before the actual pride. But it doesn’t work out to well, simply because the damage in boston is done, it has a reputation for not being the best place for black gay people, so people move, and not enough new people move in.

I mean have you SEEN the sponsor list for Atlanta Gay Pride Committee??? Now what about any of those sponsors screams “diversity” to you? Which sponsor do they plan to use to reach out to people of color? Clik Magazine offered them FREE ad space in their magazine, to reach out to Blacks in Atlanta to attend the “white” gay pride… and they were refused… So no one can say that blacks or black organizations don’t try. It’s clear the Atlanta Gay Pride Committee does not have reaching out to people of color as a priority. And you know why? Because they already have the numbers of the demographic they are serving, so they don’t “need” to do so. Everything has a target audience. And the fact that you clearly can see what the LARGE population that attends said event is, you KNOW what their target audience is.

You can say that “blacks need to do more” till you’re blue in the face, but unless the people IN the position to make the biggest impact refuse to meet half way, nothing will change, and people will just be throwing themselves against a brick wall, and eventually grow tired of it, and stop trying.

j. brotherlove please allow me, DWIGHT POWELL, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief to help you with the TRUTH that you seek. I read your post a few weeks back and was rather bothered, especially since we have never met. You made statements about my magazine and me that were inaccurate and indeed harmful. It’s unfortunate that you did not bother to contact me before making such irresponsible allegations about my magazine and myself public. You stated that our history with the gay community is sketchy. Over the past year our readership and subscription base has more that tripled. We’ve been in business for 7 years, and even with issues that torment all businesses, I would stress that our reputation is far from sketchy. Further you stated that we don’t honor our own contracts. I would challenge you to bring facts to any of your claims. I can guarantee that you will not be able to find one person or business that will stand by your unfounded allegations. When I moved my magazine from Atlanta to Miami, AID Atlanta was the only company that had an open contract with my publication. Every business and club promoter that I work with while in Atlanta continued to advertise and support Clik after I moved to Miami. Your claims are unfound and you owe my publication and me an apology.

Via quality representation, it has always been my intent to render the best possible publication that portrays our community in the most favorable light. While I do agree that there have been errors in our issues, please know that this is something that we are working tirelessly to correct.

Our community is very strange. Often we (community and opinion leaders) talk about unity and community building, but rather we do the complete opposite. Instead of looking at the work, (view by most as positive and constructive) that I have been doing for our community for the past 7 years, you decided to post such a negative, baseless editorial that does nothing to enhance or build our community.

Now I challenge you to investigate your claims and bring them back to your readership. At the end of the day, you will find that you owe me, and the community I represent an apology.