Editors Note

Chicago Black Pride Weekend…A Comedy Or A Tragedy…

It’s that time of year again where we all begin to plan, budget and prepare for our Black Pride celebration in Chicago. Black pride is the unofficial homecoming for our community and many of us who no longer frequent the weekly nightclubs look forward to coming out, having a great time and connecting with old friends. We celebrate another year and reflect on those who are no longer with us. Although many of us were once young, financially handicapped, gregarious “kids”; we are now grown men and women with disposable incomes. Our everyday activities have forced us to embrace a mentality where we plan our ventures and try not to do anything “half-assed.”  Therefore, if we’re coming to an event, we are well prepared to thoroughly enjoy the evening. As I conversed with peers about our preparation, I realized many of us were faced with the same reality. We found ourselves filtering our money, time and energy into Chicago’s White Pride weekend, while categorizing Black Pride as less of a priority. As we discussed the issue, it became apparent the major conflict surrounding Chicago Black Pride and our peers, as consumers, is the blazing lack of overall quality and production of a stimulating event. We were under the assumption this was taught in Promotions 101.


With the exception of a few intimate gatherings, Black Pride weekend is dominated by the handful of weekly promoters which has been given the keys of the kingdom. They rule Chicago urban LGBT nightlife with little or no system of checks and balances. The consumer is left with the options to either accept the sub-standard product or don’t partake in nightlife. Now let’s be clear. I am not against anyone utilizing an enterprising skill-set. Nor am I against the fundamental principles of economics. My problem arises when the quality of the product is sub-standard. Chicago, once again, will not experience celebrity headliners, famous DJ’s or fab venue spaces for our Black Pride clubbing experience. We’ll be handed a platter that includes being stuffed in the same dilapidated venues that are hosted weekly, while cocktailing on watered down over priced drinks, after paying the requested $25.00 admission (a 150 percent price inflation). Chicago will be expected to frolic & “turn up” to the sounds of the same mediocre, basement bargain DJ’s that we’ve been force-fed for over 12 years. Taking into consideration the miniscule overhead, the profit margin for this weekend alone will be equal to, if not greater than, most people two month salary. Once again, I am not concerned with someone else income. But at what point do we being to demand more than mediocrity for our money, time and city? After all, this is our pride. I’ve noticed the new trend within the set of selected promoters where the leaders attach fancy titles to their name. As a CEO, you have a responsibility to your brand and product. A chief executive is charged with the duty of actively engaging their customers and adhering to the customer needs.  Chief executives exhaust due-diligence producing a product that’s built upon integrity, industry norms and product trends. Chief executives hold themselves accountable for the business line and entities they support. Profit is always a major component but community involvement and sustainability is also a part of your job description.  I would be hard pressed to find any company that still utilizes “type-writer” techniques in a cyber-age.  Perhaps what’s most offensive is, we see these same promoters act as satellite committeemen for other city prides and actively promote and endorse to their constituents. These advertisements are highlighted with celebrity performances, famous DJ’s, impressive venues and other accoutrements. Yet when it comes to Chicago, their home city, it’s as if they turn a blind eye and incorporate a mentality of less as possible. Are we not worthy of the same treatment as our peers in Miami, Houston, NYC, DC, ATL and LA?


My call to action rest not only with the promoters of the city but also the community.  As we embrace this renaissance within the Chicago Night-life, it’s time for all to have a vested interest in our city. The time is now. Not tomorrow. Every year that we produce a lack-luster pride, we are furthering the embarrassment and ridicule that we receive from our out of town guest.  You are worth more than an abandoned gymnasium with broken speakers. Especially if you’re paying. In this cyber age, there is no excuse to be thirsty. You actually have options so utilize them. Challenge your leaders to give you the same quality events that they so eagerly attach their names to in other cities. Those entities that are exhausting due diligence to produce a quality experience, my glass is raised to you. Me and my peers will continue to support you and only you. The comedic aspect of the situation is these are the same entities that exclaim from the heavens they have over thirteen years in the game.  I would be embarrassed!  If any of us working class men and women were on our jobs for thirteen years and still producing at an ineffective level, we would find ourselves sitting in the HR office having a nasty exit interview. Chicago urban LGBT community is much too fab to be reduced to celebrating in abandoned buildings…Deo


9 thoughts on “Chicago Black Pride Weekend…A Comedy Or A Tragedy…

      • The elephants in the room are the same tired venues Metro really it was cute in when I didn’t know better for god sakes its an old theatre but when you’ve seen better set ups u want moreout your city, over priced and nothing extra not a celeb reality star or nothing no miday activities social gatherings cocktail ours testing awareness seminars nothing ….just regular parties with lackluster venues wanting redcarpet money for balloons and streamers no mamm


  1. As a fellow promoter and VP of Houston Splash, I would like to challenge you to sit down with the promoters of Chicago Pride and attempt to uncover the challenges and obstacles faced during the planning of Chicago Pride’s yearly event. I can only speak for myself but I will let you know FINANCES are the single biggest hurdle every year. Our Venues for Friday and Saturday can range anywhere from $4,000 to as high as $15,000 EACH. Keep in mind this is just the rental fee before anyone steps in the building and most venues want it paid in full a month in advance and that is challenging. Our solution to this problem has been silent, angel donors who basically loan us the money at an agreed upon interest rate. We do believe in attempting to provide our crowd with at least 1 new venue every year but that also has the following challenges; such as, “How many new clubs are not already occupied on Friday and Saturday Night?’ These nights are the bread and butter of any club and most are not willing, to shut down for one weekend with the possibility of losing their existing crowd just to host a party during pride. Houston Splash for my Team has become a labor of love and not a financial windfall in May. Our sole focus every year is to ensure our customers have a great time and sometimes the best time or event in the customers eyese had nothing to do with a nightly party.


  2. Hi Sean. It’s nice to meet you. I have no problem sitting down with the “powers that be” and strategizing on ways to enhance the pride experience. The problem we have is, the leaders of these groups are not willing to open the discussion to vested individuals. Black Pride in Chicago has become a cash-cow with an extremely low overhead and NO ONE wants to risk losing control of the finances and popularity that comes with being at the helm. While I’m sure the financial burden of securing a venue is great, as a promoter thats still your responsibility. ESPECIALLY for a major event such as “pride”. Your closing sentence is what assured me most that you and I are on the same page. Houston Splash has become a labor of love for you. Your focus is customer oriented and you seek to ensure the customer has a great and memorable time. From the feedback I’ve recieved on your event, you’ve accomplished your goal and more!! Its that same type of energy we need here in Chicago. Success will always come when you put your heart into what you do. Deo


  3. I will start off by saying I am an avid supporter in our black LGBT community when it comes to it’s night life here in Chicago, I try and support all of our promoters in all of their events. I believe that if we want better form our promoters and venues, we have to do better as consumers and participants/patriots. Regular pride in Boys Town has been successful because as a community we come out in record numbers, we support in record numbers, we make the suggested donations in record numbers, we frequent the bars and clubs there in record numbers and we support the bars with in the clubs in record numbers. I believe that there is a lot of strategic planning, sponsoring and preparation done for regular pride BUT When it comes to black pride we do not come out in record numbers ( per-pride ), we do not support in record numbers, we don’t really have any events that are pre-black pride to make record number donations for, we don’t have many bars and clubs to frequent and support with out having a specific night to do so, You can go into boys town just about any day of the week or weekend and have a bar or club there at your disposal. That’s not the case when it comes to our black gay community. We have to have a specific night and a specific bar or club that we are offered up otherwise we don’t have many other options. The reason I believe that to be is: number one we’ve been kicked out of several venues for violence and fighting, Number two is that the promoters are afraid to reach out and acquire a venue that the consumers will possibly not show up and pay at the door and or bar leaving them in the hole. Number three is that our promoters in the black LGBT community don’t want to work together everyone wants to be number one BUT there can be no number one in a city of rubble and ruin. And number four, last but not least, patriots of the LGBT community are not up to par. You have some patriots who feel that they are too good for certain venues or events. You have some patriots that will not support the bar BUT would rather drink before hand or in the car. You have some patriots that will try and make it to the venues and events while the cover is free and if the cover is not free or deemed too much they will forgo it all together. I believe we are also very divided as a black gay community as well, You have the older crowd who only come out every once in a while, You have the younger crowd who would like to party every weekend and you have the in between, who like to come out but are very selective about where they go and who they will party with. With all of these factors plus the lack of planning sponsoring and promoters and committee working together, It’s no wonder some feel the way they do about black pride here in Chicago


  4. As a founding Board Member of Chicago Black Pride, Sean and KFL have basically hit the nail on the head. Black Pride is not a cash cow in anyway. Finances have gone far, far away from the traditional sources, the silent angels have passed on or away, racism still lives in Chicago in renting and securing venues that expect to make money from their bar sales, expenses have skyrocketed with community support plummeting, new venues want money upfront and tighter security, HIV funding for the Black community has gone away, major city support has gone away as have things like a shorter Taste of Chicago, gospel Fest moved from downtown and the list goes on. Unfortunately, It is a far deeper issue than that the planning committee just doesn’t care! Fundraisers for the black Gay community to come out and support with raising pre-funds usually have fallen flat on their faces in the past. The bank account at the end of the event has been negative for many years and the committee has had to seek funds and fundraise just to pay the bills due to lack of donations from the black and black gay community. Chicago is a really hard town to do large gay black events. Even the weekly events do not have it easy. Many times that the white bars have reached out to the committee, the black gay community has not reached back. The city has made it harder and more expensive for all to get park permits that allow music and the staging for such an event is expensive. Many times there is no money to bring in guest DJs or performing artists, all who want there fees and expenses up front. We also have tried to have the seminars and marketplace at the hotel with very little attendance from the community. Plus, infighting on the planning committee never helps, lol. So I hear you loud and clear, but when the call comes to the community to show up and join the committee and do the work, silence usually is heard. Let us not forget that the Pride Parade is a private committee, not a public one. There are no black members hence the Rocks Pride was formed as the Black alternative to the parade. The white clubs don’t have too much extra special that weekend except more people. I love my people but if we don’t support non-club events with our money and time and talent and contacts, Black Prides everywhere will disappear. Chicago has some of the same and different issues that the other cities that you named have. It’s not an excuse but it does come back to FINANCES/FUNDING, racism in and outside of the black community, issues of safety and issues of internalized oppression. The discussion is always open and help is always welcomed.


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