Efforts to Protest Delta Foundation’s Pride Continue to Grow

When you hear the word “Pride,” many queer and trans people think of the official Pride March. For years in Pittsburgh that has meant the Pride Festival and Parade hosted by the Delta Foundation, and for years some Pittsburghers have protested the Delta Foundation’s version of Pride. This year, after Delta sold the naming rights to Pride to EQT, a natural gas company, efforts to protest the Delta Foundation have grown and seem to be coming from all angles.

From a creative campaign to smear Delta and EQT, to symbolically protesting the EQT Equality March from within, to hosting an alternative Pride Festival, there’s no shortage of ways people are protesting this year’s EQT Equality March.

Roots Pride

For a few years now, before efforts to protest this year’s EQT Equality March sprang up, the organizers of Roots Pride had been questioning the Delta Foundation’s leadership and creating alternative spaces for queer and trans people to celebrate Pride.

According to the facebook event, this is the last year that the Garden of Peace Project and others will host Roots Pride. The event titled: Roots Pride: Final Edition with Junglepussy & Co. will be held at the August Wilson Center on June 3rd.

In addition to a dance party they’re hosting a panel discussion titled, QT Community Futurisms: What’s Next for Pittsburgh. Panelists include Michael David Battle: Garden of Peace Project, Sanctuary Pittsburgh; Alona WIlliams of Black Femme Excellence; Suhail Gharaibeh-Gonzalez; Joy KMT: Black Quantum Futurism Pittsburgh, Sanctuary Pittsburgh; Naheen Cavalleri: True T Entertainment; Ejay Lohan. 

To cap off the three year history of Roots Pride, they state:

Radical Anonymous Protesters

Whether in person or on Facebook, you may have seen several anti-Delta and anti-EQT flyers popping up on telephone poles around the City. A few months ago a group of activists began posting these signs (below), flyering outside of the Delta affiliated Central Outreach Wellness Carevan, and dropping banners to start a discussion about Delta and Pride.

“EQT has donated thousands to anti-lgbt republicans. Demand Queer Liberation not Corporatization.” [attached is instructions to call EQT and ask that they pull sponsorship]
“Wanted for Crimes Against the Queer Community: CEO of EQT”
“Gary Van Horn is a greedy capitalist pig. He sells out the LGBTQIA+ community year after year to line his own pockets.”

The activists and creators of these flyers say that they do not want to focus on Delta or EQT in particular, but rather on fighting what they call “rainbow capitalism” or the commodification of LGBT culture. “These corporations only see us as a check mark on some diversity box” said one activist.

While some on Facebook have countered these attacks by citing the need for capital in order to host a big event like Pride, the activists say that they would rather see the money raised for big name performances like Jennifer Hudson, go towards local queer and trans organizations.

Aside from finances, the activists say that the Delta Foundation’s version of Pride misses the point. Along with facts about EQT’s environmental violations, one of the group’s flyers states that Pride should be “a time to reflect on the history of the struggle for queer and gender nonconforming rights.” When it comes to Delta’s Pride however, one of the activists said that “it’s become about entertaining people, mostly straight people, rather than about resistance.”

Grey Out of the EQT Equality March

One of the criticisms of Delta’s Pride parade is the fee that they charge for marching. For the many organizations that have already put down a significant amount of money to march in this year’s parade, a different method of protest has gained some traction on social media.

Stemming from a Facebook post, the effort to “grey out” Pride now has it’s own facebook event. The organizers are calling on attendees of Pride who do not support Delta’s EQT Equality March to wear grey as a symbol of resistance to rainbow capitalism. The facebook event states: “It’s not fair to every single person that worked hard and waited all year to come together with their community only to feel guilty or bad for participating.”

For the organizers of the grey out, Pride should be less about raising money and more about community. You can read more in the statement below:

People’s Pride

If the grey out doesn’t satisfy your need to protest the EQT Equality March, you can also attend the alternative People’s Pride, hosted by SisTers PGH. The People’s Pride March will meet at the Greyhound​ ​Station​ ​on​ ​Liberty​ ​and​ ​11th,​ ​directly​ ​after​ ​the​ ​EQT​ ​Equality​ ​March,​ ​and​ ​march​ ​down Liberty​ ​Avenue.

The organizers of the event say that it’s “​a​ ​historic​ ​second,​ ​honoring​ ​the​ ​independently​ ​organized​ Roots Pride Pittsburgh ​from​ ​2015 and 2016 which​ ​was organized​ ​by​ ​the​ ​black​ ​trans​ ​led​ Garden of Peace Project.​ ​This​ ​march​ ​is​ ​the​ ​continuation​ ​of​ ​this​ ​legacy to​ ​hold​ ​Delta​ ​accountable​ ​for​ ​its​ ​exploitation​ ​and​ ​negligence​ ​of​ ​black​ ​and​ ​brown​ ​and​ ​trans​ ​bodies.”

Ciora Thomas or SisTers PGH has explicitly criticized Delta for allowing EQT to buy the naming rights to Pride. The facebook event states: “[EQT’s] ​fracking​ ​and​ ​environmental​ ​pollution​ ​disproportionately​ ​affects​ ​marginalized​ ​communities and​ ​we​ ​can’t​ ​stand​ ​by​ ​as​ ​Delta​ ​hosts​ ​extravagant​ ​parties​ ​with​ ​fracking​ ​money.”

For the organizers of People’s Pride, Pride should be what it has historically been: “​an​ ​act​ ​of​ ​resistance lead​ ​by​ ​black​ ​and​ ​brown​ ​and​ ​trans​ ​people.”

Pride in Pittsburgh is the one time of year when queer and trans people in Western Pennsylvania can come together, grieve, protest, and celebrate. This year, saying “Pride” in Pittsburgh will likely still bring to mind the Delta Foundation’s EQT Equality March. But with protests and alternative Pride events sprouting up all around the City, queer and trans people in Pittsburgh are taking it upon themselves to challenge the status quo and redefine what Pride means in Pittsburgh.

This article originally appeared on QueerPgh.com. This article is preserved as a part of the Q Archives project. Please consider donating to help preserve Pittsburgh’s Queer history.