This year’s Pride events in Pittsburgh brought a lot of fun – Billy Porter made several appearances, local Drag Queens and Kings performed for large audiences, local businesses came out to take part and provide resources, and so much more. A new addition to the Pride celebrations was Pride on the Shore, an event that took place at Stage AE on Friday, June 3.
Nick Staples, the founder and organizer of Pride on the Shore, shared the details of the first year for the event.
“The interesting thing is that Pride on the Shore was not per se created to be Pittsburgh Pride, but to be another event for people to go to,” Staples said. “So I can’t speak on the past, but I can speak on this year. And it was absolutely incredible, just from the excitement and execution, to keeping our promises with the community. I feel like we checked all of the boxes for a first-year festival, which is amazing.”
Pride on the Shore consisted of a free pre-show Drag Show in the Stage AE parking lot, followed by a ticketed concert on the outdoor stage with Jessie J headlining, and ended with an after-party with Trixie Mattel DJing inside. Pride on the Shore promised ticket donations as well as a monetary donation to Proud Haven, a Pittsburgh LGBTQ+ nonprofit whose mission is to provide safe shelter to LGBTQ+ youth.
“We donated over 125 general admission tickets for the festival – each of those tickets was about $60. Those went out to different local organizations, and Proud Haven was our main one,” Staples said. “Proud Haven then shared it with Trans Uniting, and they then shared it with True T. We offered tickets to pretty much any organization that requested them.”
While the event was successful in turnout, Staples reported that financially, they did not break even. He said that as the founder of the event, this was expected, but a donation was still made to Proud Haven in the amount of $2,500.00.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have a very high donation for Proud Haven, which is something I want to be very transparent about,” Staples said. “However, we did do things to still raise money for them.”
To Staples, the biggest success of Pride on the Shore was the inclusivity. Over 30 local Drag Queens and Kings performed and were paid for their time, and they were given VIP admission to the concert.
“We were able to really check the box for the first year being as inclusive as possible,” Staples said.
Staples spoke about the process of getting talent to Pittsburgh due to the rocky past that the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh and the former Pittsburgh Pride has. He said that the stigma of their version of Pittsburgh Pride was something he had to fight against.
“This year, I had to really fight both financially and with reputation to bring artists so that we could kind of get back on the map,” he said. “I have this goal to be the biggest Pride festival on the East Coast. I would love Pittsburgh to be such a huge thing. And again, I’m not saying Pittsburgh Pride, I’m saying Pride festival. I think it’s one thing that a lot of people really get misunderstood about, and I think this is a really great opportunity to kind of clear that up. Pittsburgh Pride is multiple organizations, and then there are events that fall under that and Pride on the Shore was one of those events.”
For next year’s event, Staples wants to focus on amplifying voices, and continuing to make it more inclusive by making next year’s event take place on a Saturday instead of a Friday.
“While we had a great foundation, there’s still so much more to build,” he said. “And the other thing that we want to do is limit our international talent a little bit and amplify our local talent a little greater.”
Pittsburgh Pride Revolution events, often shortened to just Pittsburgh Pride, are organized, hosted, and executed by the Pittsburgh Pride Group, a consortium of local LGBTQ nonprofits, organizations, and charities. Information on 2023 Pittsburgh Pride events will be available on QBurgh.com when they become available.