The Pride Issue
Can SA’s “Gay Dollar” Make Policy Impact?
Published: June 26, 2013
In U.S. cities with prominent LGBT communities, the oldest LGBT-related parades, business chambers, and community centers date back for decades and have become woven into a diverse urban fabric.
Here, in contrast, as recently as 2007 hostile homophobes stormed City Hall to protest Police Chief William McManus’ decision to serve as grand marshal of the Pride Parade. “It has been a struggle,” says Pride San Antonio Board Secretary James Poindexter. “San Antonio is a very, very conservative city, with a long-time military presence, a strong religious presence. We’ve had to work within that type of social environment for many years.”
The good news is that the San Antonio LGBT community has been increasingly visible and active in the proximate past, raising pocketbook power potential. The community organization Pride Center, founded in 2010, expects to find a home before year-end. Pride San Antonio officially incorporated in 2011 and has seen parade entrants skyrocket; for the June 29 Pride Parade, Miss Fiesta 2013 Victoria Flores will serve as grand marshal. The San Antonio LGBT Chamber of Commerce, celebrating five years since its foundation, has evolved from a modest networking association to a fast-growing organization with 140 members and outreach goals threading across the city.
The Chamber is also working with Greenup to organize the first Main Street Music Festival in October. The festival forms part of the chamber’s longer-range vision for recasting the North Main Street gay bar strip as part of a more integral identity neighborhood in Tobin Hill. With the city’s pledged logistical support, organizers hope to draw out-of-town visitors to the festival and swell crowds to as many as 6,000 attendees. The goal of attracting LGBT tourism dollars on top of local LGBT-spending attests to the community’s comprehensive vision of economic relevance.
“If you go on Google and search for ‘LGBT travel’ I doubt that San Antonio is going to be high ranking,” says Robert Salcido, vice president of the San Antonio LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “That is something that we are striving to change.”