Redacted: An Open Letter to Pride St. Louis, Inc.

So I posted an open letter to Pride St. Louis, Inc. It got a decent bit of run locally, plenty of pass-alongs and the like, chalking up about 1,600 pageviews in a span of three days. There were some nice, personal comments, too, which were pleasing to hear, of course.

My writing the note, though, came from a place of being aggravated with the tone of the Pride response to a piece I wrote on the young effort called Keep Pride in Tower Grove, as well as some of the personal attacks aimed at organizers in article comments sections and the like; these came from anonymous sources, though they felt orchestrated. This stuff bugged me, I wrote something up, hit send. And then: I realized this wasn’t my fight. So the note’s down. Hopefully, it helped push the conversation a small amount, but if it didn’t I’m fine with that, too. Sometimes, you realize that you’ve waded into weird waters and didn’t need to do so.

One aside: as for my teenaged abilities to crash the door at Faces, I actually recycled that anecdote from a piece from last year’s Second Set series on the It’s here. And is 100% true.

If you commented on the original post and wish to remove the comment, please do so, or let me know and I’ll yank the note. Thanks for taking the time to write.



13 thoughts on “Redacted: An Open Letter to Pride St. Louis, Inc.

  1. Neill – Ha! I might’ve had too many carrot cake shots to remember that moment, but I appreciate the sentiment a few years on. And that I didn’t mention your AMP is my favorite local club *ever* shows that I rushed this piece. Cheers!

  2. Nice reply Thomas! Though I have to say me and my wife are of 2 minds:
    On the one hand, we have lived in the TGP area for over 15 years, and have been attendees and supporters of Pridefest over all those years (including marching in the parade on 3 separate occasions). My brother (who dies 3 years ago) was a regular at JJ’s, and it was through him as I was growing up that I learned acceptance and appreciation for the diversity that Pridefest represents. It is a great complement to the diversity of the neighborhoods that make up the Tower Grove area of South City. And for that reason, it should remain.
    On the other hand, the past couple years of Pridefest has been a bit of a bummer. As you would say — no F.U.N. It has become overly-corporate to the point of being financially exclusionary of long-time supporters such as Left Bank Books (a stalwart of the gay community if there ever was one). The final straw last year was the oversized gun-holster-accessories purveyor. The only thing it seemed good for was garnering a chuckle from us and many others we were in earshot of. (And yes, I know all good Americans love their guns, but it created a decidedly different tone than years and years past). For this and some other reasons, I feel they are no longer true to the neighborhood and atmosphere of TGP, and wish them well on their way.
    Now, are 2 (or more?) Gay-Pride celebrations possible? Certainly. The fact that we have one of the largest parade/festival in the country speaks to that possibility. Think of St Patrick’s Day — which has both a Downtown and Dogtown parade. It IS possible — but it does require both parties to work together to eek out the details to ensure mutual success. Sadly, this debate seems a long way from that happening. — d.

  3. Simply Brilliant! Very sad that we as a community have to go against each other rather than ban together to see the possibilities! Not impressed in the least bit with the new board so far!!!

  4. As a long time Tower Grove resident, and long time Pride-goer, I have to say I was heartbroken at the move. Downtown businesses will be noticeably absent at this event….and so will I.

  5. From what I understand of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade split, it was anything but a smooth, cooperative process. Corporate-leaning interests elected to move downtown, while a good part of the base said, in effect, “Hell, no, we won’t go!” (Can any Hibernians in the house to confirm/deny this?).
    As a result, the downtown parade is seen by many St. Louisans as inauthentic. I can only hope Pride, Inc., in their quest to claim ownership of a capital letter, keep this in mind.

  6. I for one recognize the passions the move has brought out on both sides. The only comment I really wanted to make here is your remarks at the end. You of course are posting using your name, and called out those that support the move that dont. Yet do not hold the KPITG leader you interviewed to the same scrutiny with his fake name (spelling his first name backwards as a last name)

  7. Todd, thanks for your note. It gives me a quick reason to address comments. To date, I’ve had a person write a positive note about the above, but they did so without a name; I didn’t publish that. Another named someone intimately involved in the conversations, so I didn’t run that post, a point the commenter agreed with when contacting her. I would say that Angelo Olegna is pretty much known through town by that name and he exists on Facebook as such, making his public presence one that’s tied to the name Olegna. So I hear your point, but feel there’s plenty of reason to quote him by this chosen, if not given, name.

  8. What’s sad about Todd Alan’s comment is that, yes, indeed I do go by Angelo Olegna even though that is not the name on my driver’s license, and for a very good reason. Angelo Olegna is not a fake name, it is just not my legal name. I use it as much as possible unless I absolutely have to.

    My brother doesn’t use his legal name either, incidentally. For the same reason as myself. While I don’t want to get too personal, now that this is all being scrutinized I might as well let everyone know why:

    My legal name was given to me by my step-father, who adopted myself and my full-brother after my mother remarried. He treated both of us very badly, and my mother eventually divorced him. Unfortunately, we were stuck with the name. My brother chose to be referred by the name our biological father gave us, I chose to pick my own name.

    Eventually I plan on having it legally changed, but that takes 200 bucks and a date with a judge. Until then; I go by Angelo Olegna. I absolutely detest the name of the man I havn’t spoken to in about 10 years. Someone I have no relationship with, and a side of the family I have no relationship with.

    I hope that Pride Saint Louis and everyone else respects my personal choices and what I decide I want to be called by. Thank you.

  9. As a resident of Tower Grove with friends in the LGBT community I really hope your not officially speaking on behalf of Pride St Louis. You seem in your rapid growth to have lost the principals under which the Pride Organization was orginally formed. I was initially supportive of your move but after reading your comments. I now understand why you dont have 100% support of the people you claim to represent. I have included a synopsis of why you exist I could some what take the flaming if you didnt hide behind anonymity, but to blatantly go on the offensive and launch personalised attacks on Angelo is disgraceful. You have lost my support in your move and many other neighbors in Tower Grove when you decided to try and silence an individauls efforts to create local festival here with the threat of lawyers. I really hope at some point you will actually come to your senses and support Angelo in his efforts to have a small local celebration of their identity in Tower Grove.

  10. Thank you for your intelligent, on-target assessment, Thomas. I commend the local effort for their hard work in spite of spiteful distractions. Wouldn’t it be great if we could work together to showcase the diverse, welcoming community we have in St. Louis? Energy is well spent when we act like adults. And it’s supposed to be FUN! 🙂

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