Date: July 23, 2015
Source: Baltimore Sun
Paul Liller, acting executive director of the GLCCB. (Kevin Rector / The Baltimore SunPaul Liller, 33, is deputy director and, since earlier this month, acting executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB), producers of the annual Baltimore Pride celebration.
With preparations for this weekend coming down to the wire, Liller took a few minutes last week to talk about the momentous events of the past few weeks, the future of the movement and the future of his organization and others like it.
We’re supposing that this year’s Baltimore Pride is going to be an especially festive occasion, with a lot to celebrate.
Obviously, with the ruling about marriage equality and some of the amazing things that have happened to us in the past year … it just seems kind of like it’s an avalanche coming downhill of great news for us. I’m very excited.
I think that this year, between all of the amazing things that have happened to our community, coupled with the fact that this is not only an anniversary year, but the largest year of corporate sponsorship we’ve ever had – we’ve really been able to put together a party that I’m proud of this year.
Gay Life just came out … with our Baltimore Pride issue and the Pride Guide. One of the things I put in my letter is, “We have so many reasons to celebrate, but we still have a long way to go.”
A lot of our trans brothers and sisters are still fighting for equality every single day. There’s still a huge racial divide, not only within the LGBT community, but just across the nation in general.
We’re working on trying to come together and be a full community. I think that Baltimore Pride is twofold.
A big part of it needs to be this celebration of the amazing things we’ve accomplished so far. But it also needs to be a rallying call for where we need to go in the next couple of years.
Is there a danger of a letdown at this point?
For the next couple of years, we have too much work to do to really get complacent with the word “equality.” But with that being said, is it possible that we will be victims of our own success? In some places, yes. But in an LGBT community center, I use this analogy pretty often: It’s no different for us than it is, for example, for a Jewish community center.
If you look at what some of the Jewish community centers do — or any specific community center, whether it be Christian or a black community center or anybody — they have learned, just like the LGBT community will learn, that they need to do other things to stay relevant.
One of the things that’s unique to the LGBT community is that we know no race. we know no religion, we’re everybody.
This year, we’ve started youth works here at the center, which is a partnership with the city to teach young people career paths and things like that.
I think moving forward … there’s still plenty of things we can do. The HIV epidemic here in the city is terrible, that’s something we can combat. Poverty, certainly.
Racism, which hopefully will not remain an issue for a terribly long time to come, but unfortunately it’s been a long time so far.
You mentioned earlier that this is a record year for your corporate sponsorships. Why do you think that is?
It’s a couple of things. One, it’s part of some of the successes that we as a community have achieved in the last year. We’re certainly getting national attention.
Two, when we initially … announced that we had to move our dates to July, there was a little bit of pushback. The community wasn’t really happy, because of the city’s changing and us having to move.
But the hidden gem in that pile of dirt was the fact that we’re no longer competing with New York and D.C. for sponsorship dollars.
This year, we’ve over tripled our highest amount of corporate sponsorships. In years past, the highest amount of corporate sponsorships we’ve ever had has been $30,000.
This year, we’re at almost $100,000.
There’s been some talk about your organization, that going forward, there may not be the vigor, there may not be the same level of excitement and passion. Do you see any kinks in the road, as far as the future of your organization is concerned?
First of all, we’re not a political organization. The GLCCB does nothing with politics. We may work with politicians, we may help with certain policies or be on LBGT advisory boards, but we don’t get involved in politics.
We’re here to service the community. And from the beginning of time until the end of time, there will always be an LGBT community.
We may have to alter some of what we have to offer. We may have to expand services to people we have not traditionally serviced.
But there’s always the need for people to be there to help the community.
I don’t believe that we’ll ever phase ourselves out.