AGLCC Post-Pride Shitstorm
AGLCC president resigns! No, wait! He was dumped! WTF?!??
By Kate X Messer,
11:59AM, Wed. Jun. 10, 2009
Basking in the warm rainbow glow of one of Austin's most successful Pride weekends to date, what else would any self respecting group in charge of the festivities do? Why lop off the top of their leadership, of course.
Perplexing as that sounds, that is just what the Austin Gay Lesbian Chamber of Commerce did. As their very carefully (and as it turns out, misleadingly) worded press release received in the Chronicle offices early Tuesday morning stated:
"President Jimmy Flannigan has stepped down and former executive vice president Chad Peevy has taken on the role of president of the chamber. … Flannigan resigned his position to pursue other interests and to focus on his own business, Site Street."
While gingerly worded press releases are nothing new in this age of spin, there does come a point where truth is assumed. Sadly, the quoted text does not represent what went down.
"I'm disappointed that the new chamber leadership decided to mischaracterize my exit. My commitment to this community remains strong," said now ex-AGLCC president Flannigan.
The purported resignation of Jimmy Flannigan, as put forth in the aforementioned press release, was a shock. The overwhelming consensus of the LGBT community and beyond was that this year's Pride was not only a raging success but a great leap forward toward earning the public's trust of a group that had long-strived to live down the reputation as a too-conservative – and to some, repressive – organization that was to be, for the first time, in charge of not only Austin's Pride Parade, but of all of the city's Pride festival as well.
We called newly seated AGLCC president Chad Peevy for clarification. After an uncomfortable number of awkward silences and tangents regarding how civil the board meeting was and how Jimmy had a business to run, when pressed, Peevy finally offered, "The board asked for his resignation. That press release was issued to save face for Jimmy.
"There was very little organization that went into [this year's] Pride and what did happen happened very late in the game," he continued, "And as we start thinking about next year and the level we want to take Pride – with a national headliner and in doing things more on a national scope… If were going to do that, then we're going to need a full year to think about it. We had no time to waste."
It still didn't make sense. This year's Pride was by all accounts, including the chamber's in this very same press release, "one of the better organized and most enjoyable Pride celebrations in Austin to date." So why blow the momentum and make such a rash move for what seems to be your typical non-profit board internal struggle? Was there resentment that Flannigan was getting a lot of credit for this year's success?
"There is no question that what Jimmy did for this community definitely launched the chamber forward," conceded Peevy. "But keep in mind, this is a board; all of us worked to make this happen, not just Jimmy Flannigan. Our growth became stinted [sic] when relationships were put in jeopardy. Right now we have vendors who are asking for refunds," although when asked, Peevy would not reveal the number or identities of the vendors.
So in light of these revelations, will anyone else be fired?
According to Peevy, "Right now, no one."
At press time: the AGLCC released a revised press release admitting that Flannigan had not resigned but was instead voted out of office; Jimmy Flannigan issued a press release refuting the board's claim of receiving his resignation; and we received word that board member and Pride Parade/Festival juggernaut Ceci Gratias resigned her position on the AGLCC board – an interesting first day's task for Austin's new AGLCC president and realigned board.
You can be sure we will continue to follow this story. Look for this piece in print in this Thursday's issue and look for full interviews with the involved parties here in future installments on the Gay Place Blog.