PDX Pride Under Fire for Sponsorships

The critics aren’t offering solutions.

Earlier this week, an article criticizing our local Pride organization, Pride NW, appeared in the Willamette Week. In It, a local group calling themselves the Portland Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America took issue with some of the sponsors supporting Pride 2019 in the Rose City.

I absolutely agree with what’s being said here concerning some of the less than stellar business practices of some of the Pride sponsors this year. (I should know how shady some of these companies are: I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years in manufacturing planning.)

If you want this, find the money.

However, the thing is this, people: the expectation of what people want annually cannot be done with the current model of funding it.

That means if you want a parade and festival, you, not Nike or anyone else, need to pony up the money. Because I can tell you right now, as a former board member of Pride NW, it is insanely expensive.

Our footing the bill is the only way to get exploiters and dirty money out of these events. It’s bad enough one of the sponsors has been hit with all sorts of discrimination lawsuits lately. I don’t want to be associated with that type of behavior, so I don’t go anymore.

It’s one thing to bitch about it.

Or, event participants can take the sponsorship funds and talk about fairness, justice and equality while throwing someone else under the bus.

This is why I focus on issues that no longer put me in conflict with my values, like working as a digital content creator and webmaster for a political candidate outside of the Metro area. My gripe with the Portland Democratic Socialists is that there isn’t enough of “grass roots” money for these things, either. It’s one thing to bitch, it is another to offer real solutions.

If you want this, start your plan now.

To my fellow Democratic Socialists: if you want to bring Pride back to the people, then start now, think of a plan that can generate revenue without selling ourselves out (I have also done this for other local LGBTQI events, so understand that I KNOW it can be done) and let’s see what we can do to avoid these sponsors with their ugly behavior next year.

Interestingly, Pride NW did do something awesome recently by implementing an Ethical Sponsorship policy to help weed out the truly disgusting, like scandal ridden previous sponsor Wells Fargo. It is far from perfect, but then again, it is a very bold and positive start, not just pointing fingers. (I would love to see other LGBTQI focused orgs adopt a similar policy, because this problem isn’t limited to just Pride NW.)

This could be a great opportunity.

The time for talk is over. Sh*t or get off the pot, critics. Pride is incredibly important, especially for this community and during this administration of hate. So, PDX Dem Socialists, any ideas, since now you have the community looking at you and waiting to hear what you have to say? 

This could be a great opportunity to show your leadership as a org that gives a damn. Don’t blow it by simply running your mouth and thinking that that is enough.

Love to you all.

Ben Brown Jr., owner

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