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Politics

San Diego Pride Will Go On As Conflict Between Two Groups Resolves

The San Diego LGBT Pride parade float goes through Hillcrest in July 2013.
"Big Mike" Phillips
The San Diego LGBT Pride parade float goes through Hillcrest in July 2013.

San Diego Pride Will Go On As Conflict Between Two Groups Resolves
Leaders of the two groups issued a joint statement Friday saying one of the groups, LGBT Community Pride, would dissolve.

KENNY GOLDBERG: San Diego’s Pride Festival is a big celebration for the LGBT community. It happens every July in Balboa Park but this year it was threatened because of a conflict between two groups who both wanted to organize the event. KPBS reporter Claire Trageser says that’s been resolved. CLAIRE TRAGESER: Pride can go on. That’s the word from San Diego LGBT Pride, which usually runs the festival. When the group went to take out a permit, it was surprised to find a competing group called LGBT Community Pride had already nabbed it. The usurper took the permit because it was unhappy with how the Pride organization was being run. That’s according to Will Rodriguez Kennedy who organized the truce between the two groups. He says the presidential election spurred them to put aside their differences and work together. WILL KENNEDY: Unity is important, and there needs to be certainty around our pride celebration. CT: He says the delay didn’t impact the celebration in a major way, but if the conflict extended into 2017, it would have been harder for the event to do things like book musical talent. Claire Trageser: KPBS news.

A conflict between two competing organizations that threatened to block this year’s San Diego’s Pride festival has been resolved.

Leaders of the two groups issued a joint statement Friday saying one of the groups, LGBT Community Pride, would dissolve.

That group had taken out a reservation for the location and dates of the festival, even though the other group, San Diego LGBT Pride, had organized the event in the past. The reservation was blocking all progress on the event, because the city of San Diego did not know which group was in charge.

Now LGBT Community Pride will give the organizing power back to San Diego LGBT Pride. That's because the offshoot group's members have seen many of the changes they called for in how San Diego LGBT Pride is run.

The conflict reaches back to August, when San Diego LGBT Pride fired its director, Stephen Whitburn. That led to discord among the group, with many members bringing up other issues they had with its governance, including minutes not being posted and volunteers feeling left out of the organization, said William Rodriguez-Kennedy, a former San Diego Pride board member and officer who helped negotiate the truce.

Disgruntled Pride members left and started their own group, LGBT Community Pride. In November, the group made a reservation for Balboa Park at the end of July to hold San Diego’s Pride celebration. The festival celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture and is the biggest event of the year for San Diego’s LGBT community.

“That created a crisis at the city, because the city now has to determine which organization is going to hold the San Diego Pride festival,” Rodriguez-Kennedy said.

The city sent a letter to both organizations saying it didn’t know which was the correct organization to hold the pride festival, he said, and that both either had to agree who would be in charge, or the city would decide for them in January.

Rodriguez-Kennedy said San Diego LGBT Pride has resolved most of the issues its former members had, so the new organization, LGBT Community Pride, will disband and give the organizing power back.

The new group’s motivation in taking out the San Diego Pride reservation wasn’t to disrupt the festival, but to take over if necessary because its members didn’t like how San Diego Pride was being run, Rodriguez-Kennedy said.

“To lay the groundwork for a new pride event if the community support behind San Diego LGBT Pride faltered,” he said. “It was also meant to put pressure on the board to make changes.”

He said those issues are mostly resolved, though the compromise hasn’t made everyone happy — “that’s the nature of compromise,” he said.

But, he said, the presidential election has led the community to reevaluate what’s important and how they work together.

“As we look forward, considering the implications of the new administration, both the board of directors of San Diego LGBT Pride and the people involved in LGBT Community Pride all agree that unity is important,” he said. “There needs to be certainty around our pride celebration in order to provide for a united community.”

Rodriguez-Kennedy said the groups were not able to book talent or move ahead with other preparations until the permitting dispute was resolved. He said the delay up until now has not seriously impacted the festival, but if the conflict went on into January, it would have.

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