San Jose is set
for Pride party
by Seth Hemmelgarn
The Bay Area's largest city is set to have its LGBT Pride festival this weekend, despite several resignations by organizers over the last few months.
The 37th annual San Jose LGBT Pride celebration, themed "Equality for Everyone," will take place from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, August 19 at Discovery Meadow Park, West San Carlos Street and Woz Way.
"San Jose Pride this year will be a very strong Pride," Nathan Svoboda, president of Pride's board of directors, said. This year, San Jose Pride, formally known as the Gay Pride Celebration Committee of San Jose Inc., is offering headline entertainment such as Jennifer Holiday, star of the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls .
Svoboda pointed to the "improved quality of entertainment," the return of the Leather Alley area, and other changes.
"I think they're going to see a lot of new things, and I think they're going to be impressed," he said of festivalgoers.
In recent months, though, some board members apparently haven't been that impressed with the organization as internal strife has continued.
Just last week, John Miranda, who had joined the board earlier this year, became the most recent organizer to quit. Svoboda said that Miranda called him and said that "he felt it wasn't for him at this time," but he still offered to help. Miranda didn't respond to interview requests.
AJ Solis, who had also become a board member recently, was asked to leave last month, Svoboda said.
"Unfortunately, the board and him were not aligned," Svoboda said.
He said the vote had been 6-2, but he wouldn't say how he'd voted.
Told of Svoboda's remarks, Solis said there'd been a dispute over festival entertainment and Svoboda's leadership was "toxic," among other problems.
Aside from Miranda and other board members who have departed this year, festival director Dane Dugan, who had only recently been hired, also quit. In remarks he made to the Bay Area Reporter in April, he cited a lack of organization among board members, among other concerns. Gary Walker is the current festival director.
San Jose Pride has seen other troubles in recent years, including disappointing attendance numbers and the lack of a parade, which was cut due to costs.
Svoboda, who almost left the board himself this year, acknowledged there've been a lot of resignations.
"I think it's had a big impact on how things have happened, and it's a sad situation," but they've also been able to "work with other fine people," he said.
While Pride's been having problems at the board level, Svoboda indicated that financially, the organization is doing fine.
According to a budget dated July 26 that he provided, income for 2012 was at about $199,000, up from approximately $190,000 in 2011. Expenses were listed at approximately $211,000 and $212,000, respectively.
Tickets for Sunday have increased from $15 to $20, but Svoboda said they're available for $10 until Saturday night. Admission for Saturday is free. He cited the quality of the entertainment as one of the reasons for the price hike.
Asked about the possibility of the cost increase hurting attendance, Svoboda said, "There's always that question," but he encouraged people to come Saturday and get a discounted ticket for Sunday.
Svoboda said the gap between expected income and expenses for 2012 would drop because of money that's come in since the July figures were calculated, as well as decreases in some costs. He didn't know what the total income and expenses were as of Tuesday, August 14. The Pride board's treasurer didn't respond to an email Tuesday.
The budget document lists sponsorship income at $47,300, just over twice what the organization had for 2011. Svoboda said the majority of the sponsorship money has been provided.
As of last week, Pride had about $18,000 in cash in the bank, Svoboda said. They have $10,000 in debt, he said.
Events Saturday include a fun zone with a boxing ring and rock climbing wall, and entertainment by singer Derek Jameson, comedian Carrie Avritt, and others. Sunday the gates open at 11 a.m. for a non-denominational prayer service by Jay Bakker of Revolution Church NYC.
Holiday is set to perform Sunday, along with Kat Deluna and others.
For more information, visit www.sanjosepride.com.