In support of the LGBT community and PrideFest, the U.S. Postal Service has created the first-ever pictorial cancellation mark to commemorate the state’s largest LGBT event.
Postal workers will staff a kiosk at PrideFest, where they will stamp the cancellation mark on mail submitted by festivalgoers. The kiosk will not sell postage, but people can take pre-stamped letters and postcards to be cancelled and posted June 11, from 3 to 6 p.m., and June 12-13, from noon to 4 p.m.
In addition to the pictorial cancellation, PrideFest stamps will be on sale at the merchandise booth.
Designed by PrideFest board member Paul Masterson, the stamp features the PrideFest logo over a rainbow flag background.
PrideFest board president Scott Gunkel called the cancellation “an incredible honor.”
The creation of the pictorial cancellation grew out of a dispute in June 2009 over an LGBT Pride exhibit that was set to be displayed at the Milwaukee Post Office Building.
LGBT Community Center director Maggi Cage said she coordinated the creation and installation of the exhibit in response to a request from the chair of the post office’s diversity committee to honor Pride month. The exhibit included biographies of famous LGBT people, pictures and historical descriptions of the rainbow flag and pink triangle, and photos of famous gay and lesbian people, including Oscar Wilde, Rock Hudson and Billie Jean King. The centerpiece of the display was the U.S. Postal Services’ AIDS Ribbon stamp.
“But three hours after we put it up, another postal employee took it down, unbeknownst to us,” Cage said. “No one ever called us and told us about it.”
News of the post office’s snub was heard as far away as Los Angeles, where the publicist for Sir Ian McKellan called Cage to ask if he could help. The Shepherd Express named postmaster Charles Miller “Jerk of the Week.”
Cage subsequently met with Miller and learned that “he was never contacted about either putting the display up or taking it down, which according to postal regulations would have been necessary,” Cage said. “He did not want in any way to offend the LGBT community. He came to the table with a relevant solution.”
The solution proposed by Miller was creating the pictorial cancellation mark for PrideFest 2010. Cage took the proposal to the PrideFest board.
“It was a very generous offer, and, of course, we said yes,” Gunkel said. “With the help and work of the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center and perseverance of Dr. Maggi Cage, PrideFest is allowed to shine even brighter this year. We are very grateful.”
“I think the LGBT community should feel very proud of itself,” Cage said. “We stood up as a community for what we believed was right. It validates the importance of the LGBT community in Milwaukee.”