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Volume 15/Issue 21

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PrideFest '97...A Success!; New York, New York; IAL/GPC; Are You A Wedger?
I am proud to announce that PrideFest '97 was a total success. Between Mother Nature, a wonderful Board of Directors, lots of volunteers, entertainers, sponsors, donors, merchants, parade participants and most of all...YOU...this year's "family" reunion was the largest its ever been! Attendance was a little over 7,000 humans and lots of critters from the animal world for the Pride Pet Show. The Commitment Ceremony held Sunday morning included some 15 or more couples.

Some of my favorite highlights for the weekend included the Cafe Lafitte dancers for the parade, watching the Grand Marshals' carriage while Roberts Batson helds Dr. Louis McFarland by the belt as she tossed the cups and trinkets to the spectators, Varla Jean Merman doing one of her ever popular dialogs, headliners Men Out Loud, Rob Nash, Cajun LaCage, and grand surprise Sherreece and band that truly "brought the house down!"

I must admit it wasn't easy but definitely worth it for all of us who helped to organize it. A grand thank you to all the above-listed and especially to all those past Alliance members who helped keep it alive for all these years!

The Alliance will be issuing a full financial report within the next couple of weeks as to the income and expenses of the Fest. We are proud to report that a donation check for $3,207.00 has been issued to the Lesbian & Gay Community Center to help in their operating expenses while they continue in their search for a new location for a bigger and better Community Center.

This year the Alliance made surveys available to get public opinions of the operations, needs and shortcomings of the PrideFest...that we might improve and grow. The responses were great--positive and negative! All opinions are considered. I will be placing more surveys in the local businesses for more responses and opinions. You will be seeing a lot of the Alliance this year! We are recruiting members!!

New York, New York! Flew out to New York for the International Assoc. of Lesbian & Gay Pride Coordinators (IAL/GPC) Conference hosted by New York's Pride organizers known as "Heritage of Pride." Was terrified on the flight there, since I'd never been there before, but the flight attendants took care of me with a few Bloody Marys.

Once in the cab and rumbling threw the city, I was like a kid in a "Toys'r Us"--so much to see. Everything is big and beautiful. The skyline never ended as far as I could see. The IAL/GPC coordinators were wonderful hosts and guides through the streets of New York. They took us on bus tours through Chelsea, the Village and Soho.

I saw the original Stonewall Bar. I never thought I would be so excited about gay history till I walked down Christopher Street and realized it was THE Christopher Street. My hair stood up on the back of my neck.

They even arranged a paddle boat cruise through the harbor and up to Lady Liberty. She was even more beautiful in actuality. A brisk walk through Times Square and Central Park during early morning rush was incredible--even got to stand in front of David Letterman's Late Show theater, attended a Broadway play called "The Life," and hit lots of bars. Our home grown favorite DJ Max Rodriguez was our DJ on the boat; later, I met him a bar called Splash and sat in the DJ booth while running his laser light system for him. We had a great visit. He misses home and told me to send his love to everyone. Escorted by the owner and his Assistant of WET International, we hit some of the hottest bars.

Some of them were: the Lure, the Tunnel, Juniorverse (owned and operated by world renowned DJ Junior Vasquez), Esqualita (the grand Latino bar) and King Size. All were beautiful and very high tech...far beyond your imagination. New York is teaming with life at a high pace and was quite overwhelming. I was ready to come home! IAL/GPC...truly International! They are celebrating their 15th Anniversary this year with great accomplishment. The vision of the IAL/GPC 15 years ago was to help network and teach Pride organizing groups the basics and details of putting together a successful and growing Pride Celebration. This year's conference was the largest and best attended with organizers representing some 13 countries. I haven't gotten to the final numbers on attendance yet, but will report when I do.

All I can say is the conference was incredibly inspiring and full of good teachers. Some of the teachers were pride organizers from New York, Atlanta, Houston, California, Europe, etc--all the "big dogs!" They drilled so much into my head that I am quite full and ready for '98 already. The '98 conference will be held in West Hollywood. The IAL/GPC is also broken down into regions. Our Pride is included in "Prides Of the SouthEast" (a.k.a. P.O.S.E.) The '98 Regional will be held in Nashville, TN. The regional director, James Gillam, is requesting the New Orleans Alliance of Pride host the '99 regional conference here in our wonderful city. We will be working on the arrangements this year. Also, The IAL/GPC would like New Orleans to hold the International Conference here in 2001. We're up for that!

Are you a Wedger? I've noticed quite a bit of wedging going on lately in the community. Wedging is a term that I use to refer to the process by which one uses to cause separation, strife and contention between lovers, boyfriends or girlfriends. Wedgers are those doing the wedging. Of course, I have much experience on the receiving end of this hateful process, even more so lately! At times I have felt alone in the dating world till hearing stories from lots of friends going through the same experience.

One thing I have learned and have experienced ,as well as spoken of in the past, is "What Goes Around, Comes Around!" For those of you who have nothing better to do than try to split up a couple that is genuinely trying to make it work--think about it! What you are putting others through, expect to suffer the same in your own up and coming relationships. I don't quite understand why someone would want to be so hateful as to try to break up two people while they are trying to be happy together. Wedgers start rumors and hurl false accusations, throwing up people's pasts to their lovers' faces. Well, my opinion is that one should work on making his own relationship fulfilling and stay the hell out of other's relationships.

Well that's all for this issue, till next time!

Love Always, Sonny C .

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