From the nine organizations that responded to the GA Voice LGBT organization survey, several key financial themes emerge:
• Individual donations make up a smaller percentage of budgets than you might think in a community as large as ours, coming in far below 50 percent for every organization except Savannah Pride (which has a small budget of only $50,000) and the StandUp Foundation (which benefited from a major anonymous donor in 2012).
• Federal and state grants support a large portion of some health agencies’ HIV work, but no local LGBT groups receive government funding.
• Corporate sponsorships are not common, either. Even Atlanta Pride, which gets chided from some activists for being “too corporate,” gets less than half of its funding from corporate sponsorships — and a miniscule 4.7 percent from individual donations.
Survey participants included Atlanta Pride, Georgia Equality, The Health Initiative, Lost-N-Found Youth, Savannah Pride, the StandUP Foundation, AID Atlanta, Positive Impact and Someone Cares Atlanta.
Heavy rain showers did not deter revelers from turning out in record numbers at Forsyth Park for Savannah’s Pride celebration last Saturday.
“The rain began, and people were undeterred, they relished in it, had fun, danced, and overall it made for an even more dynamic and exciting Pride festival than I could have ever imagined,” said Savannah Pride President Chris Brown. “The crowds stayed, through the rain, watched the rainbow that rain brought, and stuck around through the end of the night.”
Early estimates based on ticket sales show that roughly 10,000 people attended this year’s Savannah Pride celebration, which is more than double last year, said Brown, who added that the record numbers were a “testament to the amount of community support we've received not only from the LGBT community here, but from the entire Savannah community as a whole.”
June might be National LGBT Pride Month, but fall is when Pride season really heats up in Georgia. In addition to Black Gay Pride in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend, four areas around the state host Pride events in September, followed by the massive Atlanta Pride in October.
The second annual Athens Pride Weekend, set for Sept. 6-9, features several events rather than one large festival. It launches Sept. 6 with the 18th annual GLOBES reception at the University of Georgia and an after-party, and concludes Sunday, Sept. 9, with a Pride church service at Our Hope MCC, a commitment ceremony, a Pride picnic at Lake Herrick Pavilion at UGA, and a cabaret.
The same weekend, Savannah Pride pulls out all the stops for the city’s 13th annual Pride Fest, planned for noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8, in Forsyth Park.
Organizers estimate more than 4,000 revelers turned out for the 12th annual Savannah Pride festival on Saturday, even though this year marked the first time the festival charged attendees a $5 admission fee for those 16 and older.
Though the numbers are not yet finalized, Savannah Pride Executive Director Heather Byars said that this year is competing for record attendance with 2006 – the year that drew thousands to see performer Kimberly Locke.
“Pride has financially struggled over the past couple of years with the impact of the economy affecting many of our corporate sponsorship opportunities and community support at large,” Byars said. “To see the number of people inside the park, and the line wrapped around the park sidewalk of those paying their way in … I knew we were going to pull off this year in a positive way.”
Despite a heavy downpour at the height of Savannah Pride on Saturday, hundreds of people celebrating being gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender didn't let the weather damper their spirits to celebrate the 11th annual fest.
Cindy Ussery, 40, of Milledgeville, was holding her sleeping grandson, Jackson, age 20 months.
"This is his first Pride," she said. Ussery was there with her partner, Stacie McCant, 38. Jackson't tiny t-shirt read "I love my nanas."
"We've never been to Savannah Pride. We've been to Atlanta Pride," McCant said. Although they were soaked in the heavy rain that fell mid-afternoon, they said they wanted to stay for the full fest.