KC Pride Planners Have a Local Focus

As the annual Pride festival weekend approaches, here’s the latest on what the newly formed Kansas City Diversity Coalition (KCDC) and the LGBT bars are doing to prepare.

KCDC bought out the former Show Me Pride LLC, which had managed the previous Pride festival, and merged with the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Kansas City to form the new organization. The official name change to Kansas City Diversity Coalition took place in October 2012.

To celebrate Pride, at one point, several gay bars under the working name of the KC Bar Coalition were planning a large festival on the streets surrounding Hamburger Mary’s. Then in March, many of the bars decided to work with KCDC on an event in Westport instead. Hamburger Mary’s canceled the street-closing permits it had secured, and it is creating its own Pride weekend celebration with events Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 2, inside the restaurant and on the new outdoor patio. The LIKEME Lighthouse, Kansas City’s LGBT center, will be the beneficiary of the funds that Mary’s raises that weekend.

At this point, one month out, the community is asking a lot of questions about the Pride festival. Communication from KCDC has been low-key and sparse. The website for www.gaypridekc.com hasn’t been updated in nearly a year. The Kansas City Diversity Coalition does not have a website, but the site of the former Lesbian and Gay Community Center at www.lgcckc.org is still active, although it shows no mention of the KCDC.

In March, the KCDC announced they would do a Pride event with a theme of “Back to the Basics” on Westport Road in Kansas City, Mo. They hope to have a Street Blast on Friday night, May 31, with DJs provided by local gay bars, and then a street festival with local entertainment during the day on Saturday, June 1, on Westport Road east of Broadway. Their press release stated that the event would not be held at the Power & Light District, the site of the 2011 and 2012 Pride festivals. As of this writing, they think they may possibly have another event on Sunday, June 2, at a different location.

Mason Hakes stepped in to chair the 2013 Pride Festival in March. He’s a veteran of previous Prides, where he has worked as a volunteer. He describes the Back to the Basics theme of this year’s event as one of cost-cutting for KCDC and the exhibitors.

“All of our entertainment is going to be local,” he said. “We are going to go with vendors and exhibitors who have been with us in the past. We are really going to shine a spotlight on our local LGBT businesses and organizations in the city. We’ve slashed vendor and exhibitor fees in half to try and make this year’s festival more accessible. So for not-for-profits, it is $150, and for businesses, it is $200. So those are donations since we are not-for-profit now, thankfully.”

The community will have wide access to Westport area restaurants for food. Hakes reported that the festival will be able to serve beer, wine and soda, but that it doesn’t have the license to sell hard liquor outside. The event will be located in front of the popular gay bar, Bistro 303. Organizers are working on the local acts now.

Josh Zuckerman (joshzuckerman.com), who grew up in St. Louis, is scheduled to play Friday, and the local band Grenadina (grenadina.bandcamp.com) is scheduled for Saturday. Hakes also said they’ve invited the local gay bars to provide stage acts as they have done in previous years, but those acts will be intermingled with the other entertainment.

“I think this is going to be the opportunity for a lot of people to finally walk away from the Kansas City Pride and say, ‘This has been my favorite Pride in a long time,’” Hakes said. “I think that by moving the festival to a street that is in the middle of the city and almost every single business on the street is owned by LGBT owners, that is going to send a good message to what we are trying to accomplish this year.”

If you’d like to volunteer, the group could use your help. Pride festivals, like any large event, rely on dedicated volunteers to handle logistics. Tasks that volunteers have handled in previous Pride festivals include setting up tents, building stages, cleaning up trash, providing ice to food and drink vendors, helping exhibitors, and countless others. It’s often a thankless job, and one cannot say enough about the importance of the contribution of volunteers at Pride over the years.

For more information, visit the Kansas City Diversity Coalition’s Facebook page or send an email to kcdiversitycoalition@gmail.com.

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