Competing Black Pride weekend events create friction

Competing Black Pride weekend events create friction

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Philly Black Pride and Woody’s are at odds this week after PBP claimed that the Gayborhood bar was throwing a PBP block party without the namesake organization’s consent. 

PBP President Le Thomas told PGN that AIDS Healthcare Foundation submitted a special-events permit to close part of 13th Street for a block party April 28 that would conflict with a party PBP is hosting around the corner, at Camac and Fawn streets. 

Thomas said the permit gave the name of the event as “Philadelphia Black Gay Pride” and that AHF submitted it on behalf of Woody’s, because the document had to be submitted by a nonprofit organization.  

In a statement released on Facebook and to the media, he wrote that the bar had been promoting it as a Black Pride block party and that Woody’s “neither consulted us, nor asked our permission before co-opting our event.” 

“Woody’s doesn’t have the right to use our name,” said Thomas, who said that “Philly Black Pride” was trademarked last year. 

Woody’s, in a statement to PGN, claimed it never used the name. 

“It should be known that we have not co-opted or misrepresented our participation in the 20th anniversary of the Black Pride Organization,” the email statement read. 

It goes on to say that the block party in question is an annual event — one that benefits organizations primarily serving people of color — and that Philly Black Pride has been associated with for the past two years.

In 2017, Woody’s co-owner Billy Weiss planned the first block party for Philly Black Pride weekend with Simply Christopher, a party production company run by former Philly Black Pride president Christopher Allston. The event was a big success, so Woody’s decided to become a full sponsor of Philly Black Pride in 2018. It organized a second block party that benefited both PBP and The Colours Organization. 

Thomas said PBP had been in discussions with Woody’s this year about collaborating on more events during this year’s festival. 

“After multiple conversations about the collaboration efforts, we left with an understanding that a partnership was not possible for this year’s planning, and that future opportunities would remain open,” he said. 

Woody’s has a different take. 

“Woody’s has tried since December to work with Philly Black Pride as one of the benefiting partners in our annual event, as we did last year,” the statement read. “Despite our best efforts … they refused to work with us at every turn.” 

Woody’s said after the failed attempt, it decided to bring on other black-centric beneficiaries for this year’s block party, including AIDS Healthcare Foundation, The Colours Organization and Q Spot. 

As of press time, the Philly Black Pride block party was planned for April 28, in collaboration with Tavern on Camac, U Bar and Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar. A representative from Woody’s said its block party is up in the air due to impending inclement weather. 

“If the weather holds out, and [the benefiting partners] still wish to be a part of this event, we are committed to working with them to bring awareness to their mission and services. We also remain committed to providing them with the funding commitment they need to continue to do important work within the LGBTQ black community.” 

If it does happen, Thomas said, he worries it will crush attendance at his event, which is happening on a smaller street around the corner from Woody’s. 

“Woody’s happens to be centrally located. If [13th Street] is blocked off, that’s where people will go. It’s going to stop our attendees from coming to our event,” he said. “People are coming from all over the country to celebrate Philly Black Pride, and we want them to be at an event that’s actually hosted by Philly Black Pride.” 

Both entities also said that they’d be willing to work together after the PBP event, whether the Woody’s block party happens or not. 

“If they have their block party, it’s going to change the conversation. It’s going to make it more difficult to establish a trust level,” said Thomas. “Even though it would be frustrating to see that still happen, we would be willing to sit down and unpack all of this.” 

This is something Woody’s can agree on. 

“It is our desire to continue to contribute resources to organizations [that are] doing important work in the LGBTQ black community. We are still holding out hope and remain willing to work with Le Thomas and Philly Black Pride for this year and for years to come. This event, and future events, are too important for building awareness and should not get in the way of badly needed resources for charities such as AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Colours and Q Spot. They should not be collateral damage, especially on the 20th anniversary of such an important Pride.” 

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