Gazing, realistically, across the spectrum of San Francisco LGBT nonprofits, it's hard to think of an organization ready to step in for Pride at a moment's notice. While the LGBT Center has been mentioned — and executive director Rebecca Rolfe notes that board chairs Calma and Randolph both spoke with her tentatively about some manner of merger — the center is hardly a picture of fiscal robustness. In fact, last year it required a $157,000 city loan to make its mortgage payments, but city officials insisted this was not a bailout.

Behan, meanwhile, is left in the not entirely unreasonable position of stating that he deserves a chance to dig Pride out of its hole before politicians start tossing dirt onto the casket. Pride, he notes, has whittled $65,000 off its debt since the beginning of the year. What's more, he adds, it faced a deficit in 1997 every bit as dire as the current one — and no one was calling for someone else to take over.

In '97, however, Pride was just beginning to distribute money to smaller nonprofits through its community partner program. These days, those nonprofits aren't just thankful for the cash — they expect it. "I think it's a good thing, but it's become the driving thing," former board chair Cain says of the payments. "It gets weird." In fact, it's Pride's ability to generate money — but not enough money — that has the supervisors most frustrated. Wiener acknowledges that Pride's woeful organizational structure and fiscal illiteracy were undetectable to its million-plus revelers. "The impact on the community is that the more well-run [Pride] is, the more money it's going to generate — which then goes back into the community," he says. Pushing for someone else to run the event "is more about maximizing opportunities."


Pride’s interim executive director, Brendan Behan, says obituaries for the organization are premature.
Jean-Philippe Dobrin
Pride’s interim executive director, Brendan Behan, says obituaries for the organization are premature.
Mikayla Connell counts her years 
atop Pride’s board as one of her life’s great failures.
Jean-Philippe Dobrin
Mikayla Connell counts her years atop Pride’s board as one of her life’s great failures.

To be certain, Gilbert Baker did not create the rainbow flag and march down the street to "maximize opportunities" for nonprofits. But for those nonprofits, Pride represents a windfall — smaller organizations can bank a quarter or more of their yearly revenue in one day. Curtis Moore, the executive director of Bay Area Young Positives, says that the thousands of dollars his group gets from Pride buy dinners and counseling for newly diagnosed HIV-positive children and young adults. "It's the cornerstone of our agency," he says. "It's really important to us to be a beneficiary of Pride."

A number of the nonprofits affected by the "beverage payment scandal thing," incidentally, tell SF Weekly they don't buy Pride's claim it was all a misunderstanding. They figure they were deliberately shortchanged when money grew tight. Pride cut a pile of $100 checks as good-faith payments, but the nonprofits are all still owed thousands. Yet the ones contacted for this story are coming back. The potential payday is too good to pass up.

When it comes to money, Behan pledges that Pridegoers this year, as in years past, won't be charged admission. But he's in no position to make any promises about next year or the year after that. If his organization falters, community members worry Pride's sheer moneymaking ability will lead to a for-profit organization being installed and charging revelers steep entry prices, as some other cities do. "If the people running Pride can't pull out of this tailspin, I think that will happen," former board chair Connell laments. "It'd be a real tragedy if Pride became a queer concert fest. It'd no longer be a community event, just a moneymaker. Maybe the city would be fine with that. Obviously it's not fine for the community."

What we do know is this: Come June 25, Pride is going to happen. The theme this year is "In Pride We Trust." And the irony of that is lost on no one.

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16 comments
Si Se Puede Deportar
Si Se Puede Deportar

Hilarious if it weren't for the fact that the taxpayers will be ponying up to keep the inept and corrupt "organization" going "for the community". Perhaps public floggings of prominent public figures could be auctioned off to raise funds? After all SF is known for out in the open BDSM.

Thom Lynch
Thom Lynch

All of this is so sad and at one time unavoidable. Many people met with the board before they hired Amy and suggested a major overall of the board was required and that the membership structure should be revisited. Spending had to be reduced, having 26 stages to place everyone is ludicrous. This was widely known by non-profit exports who knew the LGBT groups in town and their problems too. But pride stood out as one of the worst and didn't listen to anyone until it just too late.

Dp1965nj
Dp1965nj

HA HA! In Pride We Trust

Jward
Jward

i dunno. i have little faith, and there's more to be done than one woman/man can do alone. merging with another organization = get a clean slate. if this organization tried to do more than give a short parade and flaunt corporate sponsors, cocks and boobs, then maybe i'd be more enthusiastic. where is the contribution to humanitarian causes? what about us gay families with kids? what about poz people? sure, let's party and have a parade. but let's also do some GOOD for the community rather than just wreak havoc.

Sanfranguns
Sanfranguns

OK, so Marc has obviously never been to a pride celebration. Anyone with a real comment?

Sanfranguns
Sanfranguns

Can we please stop calling this an Economy issue? Do you know that people have given MORE money since the country's fiscal crisis started. I work for a non-profit and yeah, its maybe harder to find money - but there's still money to be had. Pride's mis-management and derelict board is what caused all this. Nothing more

Marc
Marc

San Franciscans, especially LGBTQ ones, don't deserve this celebration. You've done nothing to be prideful of for at least the past seven years. It's become a reason to drink and drug and nothing more and it is quite clear you don't have a clue how to bring in money for anything except personal coffers. And don't even get me started on sponsorship by companies such as Clear Channel. Shame on you.

dariamilan
dariamilan

what the article fails to include is that Amy Andre did have financial training in the MBA for Berkeley that she got after the Point Foundation paid for it. Ms. Andre is excellent at taking money from others but seems woefully lacking in paying it forward even when she is getting a paycheck to do just that. The fact that board members are able to take responsibility but she just brushes it off as a "learning experience" is truly sad. She withheld info from the board and the public and has never taken responsibility for it. All after getting her MBA paid for with the promise to serve her community.

thixotropic
thixotropic

My first impulse was "Government money?!? No way in hell!" But the city does get tax revenue from it, and Pride has the benefit, in lean times, of reliably putting of plenty of money in the hands of local merchants. A million people with an above average income spending it is worth 160K in debt.

But fiscal and organisational changes are paramount. Those of the current crew responsible should be held accountable, and competent people must be engaged to replace them.

garrett
garrett

We are going thur a bad time folks, things are shutting down, stores are closing and people are losing homes. Non-profits are having to cut back, less money nowadays. If Folsom is doing well change the model to them. As for getting public money, Why.

MissMimsey
MissMimsey

Lord hep me Jesus.

David Campos says you have to fish or cut bait.

The dam ting MUST be a total mess.

MPetrelis
MPetrelis

kudos to joe eskenazi for a comprehensive, fair and balanced look at the mess known as SF Pride. he did a fabulous job of giving some of the tortured history of the board and most recent executive director, and also acknowledging the extensive reporting of the bay area reporter.

i have one big question after reading joe's piece, and i say this as someone who avoids the pride parade and festival at civic center: what is the gay political point of the damn parade and party on the last sunday of june?

____
____

Pride comes before a fall.

Maria
Maria

Wow. Excellent report (though a dubious title).

What I find especially frustrating is that in the relatively close-knit core of gay people who've lived in the city for decades and know all the players and have a nose for trouble, this narrative has been known for years.

We all winced with every new pronouncement emanating from the Pride org about an ever more edge-case focus on politics and buzz-words and ever dwindling accountability and financial health. Its been going on for years.

In this city, large non-profits are enabled to operate without accountability, to spend tax dollars with out any meaningful tracking of outcomes vs. promises, and in the end we all lose -- except of course the non-profit executives who pocket fat salaries.

Marc
Marc

Really? I'm curious as to what you base your assumption on?

You're quite wrong by the way. I've been a volunteer for SF Pride even but please enlighten me as to why you make that statement.

Sanfranguns
Sanfranguns

If all you've seen at a pride celebration are people getting drunk and high then you've either not been there or you're an idiot. I was being kind

 
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