Pride Debrief & Update

by | Mar 4, 2019 | 0 comments

Steve Starkey is cautiously optimistic for the future of Pride in Madison. OutReach LGBT Community Center’s executive director is honest about the stress and uncertainty that unfolded for the organization over the last year, though. After a handful of loud protests from community members over the participation of uniformed police officers in the Pride march, OutReach’s board voted to disinvite law enforcement—in their official capacity—from the event.

That drew a firestorm of criticism and lead to a series of contentious arguments and discussions, including at a public meeting organized by MPD Pride, the Madison Police Department’s LGBTQ affinity group.

It also lead to several large donors withdrawing their support from OutReach, leaving their financial security very much in doubt. Starkey says that some new donors have since come on board, too, though it doesn’t make up for what was lost. He emphasizes his gratitude for the endowment left to OutReach by the estate of William Wartmann, too, though notes that they won’t have access to any of that money for another year at least. After that, the million dollar fund will be controlled and meted out by the Madison Community Foundation.

After the dust settled from Pride and the controversy around police presence at the event, community conversations about the issue have been ongoing. The main protest contingent eventually formed into a group called the Community Pride Coalition, which has since held a series of informational and training sessions around white privilege, racism in queer communities, and police, at OutReach’s facilities.

Starkey says that other organizations have also reached out with an interest to help in future efforts to bring the community together around the issues, including First United Methodist Church, Eldonna Hazen at First Congregational Church, and the board of OPEN.

OPEN attempted to facilitate a meeting between the Community Pride Coalition and MPD Pride, but the coalition demurred. 

Meanwhile, the future of Pride is very much up in the air, as OutReach considers whether or not it can continue to carry the financial and logistical weight of organizing a parade. Instead, they’ve sought input on other ways to provide a more communal Pride event.

“People mentioned the old MAGIC picnics,” Starkey said. He emphasizes the opportunity such a picnic might provide for people to mingle and network, as opposed to parades, “where everyone shows up and marches with their group and then leaves.”

He admits that there would be plenty of people disappointed in the loss of a parade, including himself, but Starkey hopes to have OutReach still play a major role in organizing one kind of Pride activity or another. Mostly, he stresses his desire to see the debate strengthen the community instead of tearing it apart.

“I hope people don’t get so passionate about ‘police have to be in’ or ‘have to be out’ that it destroys the community.

“The silver lining of all of this,” Starkey went on, “is that it put the issue on more people’s radars than ever before. Folks who’ve felt left out and ignored are demanding to be noticed and to take part. I don’t necessarily agree with all the methods, but now everyone is talking about it. That sets up the real possibility of positive change.”  ­—Emily Mills

Article Tags

National Women\'s Music Festival
Milwaukee Pridefest 2024

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Milwaukee Pridefest 2024
National Women\'s Music Festival

Latest News

Love Strikes

Love Strikes

GSAFE youth Bri Hudson on coming to terms with being a lesbian and adjusting to a new school.

Are You a Friend of Sandy Brown?

Are You a Friend of Sandy Brown?

Army veteran Sandy Brown is a former Vice President of PFLAG’s National Board and a recipient of the PFLAG Starr Award as well as the Door County’s Ann Kok Social Justice Award.

Delta Means Change

Delta Means Change

Delta Beer Lab has done their best to take the high road, as economic pressures challenge business to find a new way,
by making changes that still serve their mission and values.

Growing, Together

Growing, Together

After 25 years together, Pam Mehnert and Lisa Malmarowski reflect on the decades of LGBTQ setbacks and progress they’ve expereinced in Wisconsin.

Hard Work

Hard Work

Crossroads Community Farm organic farmer Cassie Wyss talks about becoming a farmer and a member of the LGBTQ community later in life.

Madison Queer Bike Ride

Madison Queer Bike Ride

Organizer Zach Johnson shares about a meetup in Madison’s Law Park. The ride specifically welcomes all bodies, including new or infrequent bikers, on the second Wednesday of every month at 6:00 (weather permitting).

Queer Climbing Social

Queer Climbing Social

Co-chair Becca Ridge (she/her) and Co-host SJ Hemmerich (they/them) on a monthly meetup at Boulders Climbing Gym’s two locations in Madison.

Professor Profile: Finn Enke

Professor Profile: Finn Enke

UW-Madison professor and artist Finn Enke (he/they) talks about his upcoming memoir and graphic essay collection, prioritizing tenure over transition, and being the only openly trans faculty member in 2011.

Latest News

VIEW ALL LATEST NEWS

Quigley
DCHS Wildlife Center
MKE Pridefest 2024 - block

Events

SUBMIT AN EVENT

VIEW ALL EVENTS

Jobs

SUBMIT A JOB POSTING

VIEW ALL JOBS

Popular Tags

Pin It on Pinterest