What Makes Cville Pride a Unique Pride Festival – and Unique to Charlottesville Events
We’ve made choices about how we organize and produce the annual Cville Pride Festival.
The Cville Pride Festival is not a celebration of individuals, but of the community, and each individual’s right to be true to themselves in a safe and supportive environment.
To this end, unlike many other Pride Festivals, we don’t get together thousands of dollars to entice national acts to perform. Instead, we focus our efforts on giving everyone who wants to perform a chance to do so. We don’t hold auditions. We exclude no one. The stage belongs to the community. The only exclusions we make have to do with offensive material – and making sure there’s a good fit for the venue (spoken word poetry won’t do well, but we’ll find another event for that to be shared!). And yes, we prioritize LGBTQ performers. Because this is an LGBTQ festival.
We don’t pay any performers, and never have. We don’t pay any volunteers, any board members, any safe-space trainers, any speakers or hosts. We give of our time and energy – none of us make money from Cville Pride – and we’re grateful for everyone who has joined us and done the same. The festival is a gift – a gift of love that we give each other.
In this spirit, we are grateful for every performer who signs up to bless the stage with their presence.
We, the Cville Pride board, do all the work we do, year round with no compensation, taking time from our families, in the spirit of uplifting those who feel marginalized, lonely, unsafe, and in need of encouragement – from kids with same-sex parents to senior citizens. We are a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. Literally, at the beginning, we had 0 dollars. We’ve been able to do more because of generous volunteers and donations.
We have no paid staff positions. We have no location. We would love to someday have a youth and senior center, a place for safe-space training, and the ability to hire employees to run the organization full time, so we can offer more services. That is a future goal – and people have been asking for this for years. We’d love to have space that could house a homeless teen, or a clothes closet for transgender individuals – a safe space for a teen summer camp or a book club. But we’re not there yet.
We have, from the beginning, made an effort for the Cville Pride Festival to not be the product of one organization, but an experience that belongs to the community. The growth and expansion of the festival, along with all the programs running year-round, result directly from the enthusiasm and engagement of all the people who show up, offer support, and share the vision of equality.
Inclusion & Diversity
Diversity? Yes. It has always been clear to us that Charlottesville is a racially divided town, and that anything we did needed to be part of an effort to heal the divides that wound us and perpetuate homophobia. The heartbreaking treatment of Sage’s disappearance clearly indicated how difficult and dangerous it is to be LGBTQ and of color here in Charlottesville. But she’s not alone: Many of the LGBTQ youth of color who attend our programs feel they have to choose between their sexual orientation or gender identity and their family and religious communities.
So yes: We have sought performers and leaders of color, as well as members of the trans community, who will stand on the Pride stage and spread the good news that finding yourself does not have to conflict with having connection and acceptance. Role models are key for all LGBTQ youth – who often face bullying, rejection, higher rates of suicide and depression – and the diversity of people on the stage every year gives these kids hope.
Is there more work to do? Yes. We know that racism (along with sexism, classism, ageism, transphobia, colorism, etc.) live within the LGBTQ community. Finding concrete ways to shift power and perspectives, question assumptions, change policies to increase transparency and awareness remains a priority within all we do.
While this statement and our performer policy are current policies that have been in place since the inception of the organization, we are always reviewing our policies and practices. We continue to seek out and listen to feedback to make sure we continue to grow and meet the needs to the people we’re committed to serve.
Please stay tuned, as we move forward together in Pride.