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