City funding pulled from LGBT event

Equality Forum is losing $115,000 in city funding

Link: Gay event loses city funding [Inky]

The loss of the city's $115,000 contribution - about 13 percent of the budget for the weeklong event - will force reductions in promotion and advertising, Malcolm Lazin, executive director of the Equality Forum, said yesterday.

Lazin said the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual community - which voted overwhelmingly for Mayor Nutter - feels the funding cut is not only "grossly unfair" but counterproductive for the city.

City commerce and convention officials have worked for almost a decade to attract the gay and lesbian tourism market, worth $70 billion annually nationwide. The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. figures that the typical gay tourist in Philadelphia spends $230 a day, Lazin said.

"When Mayor Nutter was elected, we felt like we finally had a seat at the table," Lazin said. "Now we feel like that seat has been pulled out from under us."

Nutter's spokesman, Doug Oliver, countered that the city, which is facing a mammoth budget deficit, simply cannot afford to fund special events when libraries, pools and fire companies are on the chopping block.

Among the events the city will not help underwrite this year are the St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Puerto Rican Day Festival. The Mummers' Parade got a reprieve this year but will receive no city funding next year.

"They all make the economic argument that they bring tourism to the city," Oliver said. "We do not refute that argument. But the simple fact remains that the city has been faced with back-to-back billion-dollar [budget] cuts."