Wednesday, May 23, 2007

As the Pride flags unfurl around the country...!

And the winner is... Taz Bailey, Mr. Gay All-American 2007! Mr. Bailey from Midwest City, Oklahoma was selected from a field of three at the Copa, 5.19.07 in OKC in a competition based on interview, fashion modeling and talent. Rounding out the contest was Sebastian Armonte of Pittsburgh, PA, (1st Alternate,) and (2nd Alternate,) Dean Taylor of St Louis, MO. Awarded a $2,500 prize package, Bailey will represent the pageant throughout the country promoting a positive gay role model and participation in the MGAA system. The event was hosted by former MGA 2004, Rachel Eriks and MGAA 2006, Lucas Lander, which also featured guest performers and former contest winners as pictured below.

(Left to right) Antonio Edwards (MGAA98), Enrique Perez (MGAA03), David Pace (MGAA94),John Lucas, ( MGAA 06), John Bebee ( MGAA 96), contestants: Dean Taylor, Taz Bailey and Sebastian Armonte. How time has passed since the inception of this contest which has roots here in Arkansas, even though the state has failed to produce a representative in years. It was the brainchild of NK, Inc. decades ago and I had a chance to witness it's timely uniqueness as it began the journey to highlight and celebrate "overt maleness," of our diverse community. My then favorite, Keith Mitchell, went on to win the 1985 national title as well as represent the contest. Unfortunately and all to soon, Mr. Mitchell since then has passed on. Futhermore, to my knowledge this is the first time that all participants were African Americans. How times..they are a changing or are they? Congrats to all involved and bravo to Mr. Bailey on capturing the title. Perhaps we will be able to get an exclusive interview with him in the near future. Unlike most competitions, the contest is open to all and at this date does not demand an entry fee. The 2008 title will be up for grabs in November 2007, so get prepped early.

Pride or Bust: Across the country the sounds of Pride flags are unfurling as local organizers plan their yearly festivals and parades. However, many of those planners are finding that producing Pride activites, althought put together with love, often come at price that some groups can't continue to pay. Enter the Seattle gay pride celebration that "blinked" when organizers announced that they would cease operations and disband amidst a 2006, $102,000.00 budget deficit. But community citizens were not having it, meanwhile proposing to dial back plans and producing the event with more modest financing raised from dieheart supporters. North of the border in Ottawa and Montreal, organizers are reeling from financial difficulties and will attempt find more revenue producing aspects to offset Prides that have become behemoths of debt. The national budget figures vary wildly from $50,000 to $250,000.00 for an average event. Locally, Little Rock's impending capitol pride has been scavenging for funds for the past year, in the face of several cancelled fundraisers, non-responding corporate sponsors and a "fire sale" on booths to vendors and non profits. The last time I checked it's website's running total, the posted amount was less than $6,000 but the scuttlebutt around town is that a unamed benefactor has donated $10,000 to the cause. Allowing the organization to produce needed advertising materials including a slick "Pride Guide," stuffed with advertisements. But in my opinion ( and I wasnt asked) the guide lacks an actual schedule of events, FYI tidbits such as parking, security, rules of order or terrorist attack.( O.K. maybe not terrorist.) Further whispers have stated that headliner Eric Himan may not be totally engaged with the event, has Pride 07 morphed into "Joe Lafontaine Presents..." ( the solo inside cover picture of the prez doesn't help dispel this notion,) and others have cited too many concerns to mention here. I wish the skelton crew of LRCP well for undertaking the daunting task they've accepted. The planing meetings were open to all, participants sought and imput requested, therefore, the opportunities were presented to make this a success. If it's not, then there's always next year. It's going down at the Rivermarket Pavillions, June 3, 2p.m. - 9p.m. Pick up a guide at your favorite spot and tell me what you think.

Links: (contact info for MGAA contest) (Health and AIDS information)

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Joe L said...

I would like to clear up a few errors in your report on Capital Pride. First off, there is a board that has put in a TON of work over the past year and to say that one person "presents" this event is simply NOT true and unfair to those that have put in their time, effort AND own personal money. Admittedly, we have not received as much support from the community as we had hoped, but we have raised almost $10,000 for the event. Our largest donation was from the Human Rights Campaign for $2500-- so there was no "unnamed benefactor donating $10,000". Our headliner, ERIC Himan is confirmed to perform. Your asessment of the Pride guides lack of content is duly noted and I think the criticisms are valid and will be considered as we continue to build our event. We hope to see everyone at Pride and input, assistance and participation is welcome.

Barb Kampbell said...

First of all, the entertainer booked is ERIC Himan, not Chris. There is also not a $10,000 donor. I'm on the board. I cannot believe you would publish this to further tear apart a communtity that SOME of us are trying very hard to build in Central Arkansas. A community of unity, not division and fighting amongst our own. This blog saddens me very much.

For the record, Joe has worked his butt off to see this event take place despite numerous setbacks. I have not seen the Pride Guide so I cannot comment on that, but IF he got kudos in it, believe me HE deserves them.

Jordan Krueger said...

As a board member of LRCP, I can unequivocally tell you that there was no "un-named benefactor" of $10,000, though I wish there was for our sake. All the money listed on the site has been given to us by the sponsors (also listed on the site by how much they gave).

Furthermore, as to our headliner, his name is ERIC Himan, not Chris. And I'm not sure what is intended by the "un-engaged" comment, but I want to make a note that he is appearing at MANY prides this season, including Atlanta Pride (one of the largest in the country) -- making him a bit too busy to be all that "engaged" with us. Nonetheless, I wouldn't expect any of our performers, especially ones like him who are coming from out-of-state, to do any more than we are contracted with them for.

Finally, while I appreciate the continued publicity (I use "I" as I am speaking entirely for myself -- this was not written in conjunction with any other board members), I'd ask that we keep the rumor-mongering to a minimum. As you mentioned, all of our meetings have been completely open to anyone who wishes to attend, and as such anyone is welcome to ask us directly about what is going-on at those meetings.

The event can only be a success with the participation and assistance of the GLBT community for which this event is being held for, so I encourage anyone who wishes to aide us in making the event happen to head to our website at to find out what they can do to help.