2011-06-24 PrideWeek Statement

A statement from the Board of Halifax Pride

Halifax Pride held its quarterly community meeting on Tuesday, June 21, 2011. These meetings are held four times a year, so that Halifax Pride can have regular input from the community it serves. Tuesday’s meeting was very well-attended, and--to no one's surprise--focused on comments made by our Co-Chair EdSavage in the media, and the controversy that followed.

The Board of Halifax Pride thanks everyone who came out. Opinions were expressed clearly and passionately. We learned a lot. As a Board, we’ve decided to issue this statement in response.

First and foremost, we want to apologize for the controversy that was caused. The statements reflected in the media, and the subsequent attention to them, caused a lot of upset in the community, and raised a lot of questions about Halifax Pride’s values. We think this happened through a combination of poorly chosen words, quotes taken out of context, and the lack of a full and quick response. But however it happened, it’s our responsibility as a Board to make sure the community knows our values and feels represented by us--and that didn’t happen here. For that, we can whole-heartedly apologize to you.

You asked real, thoughtful questions about Halifax Pride’s values. We want to clarify three important aspects of our values, which we think became clouded as a result of the controversy.

Firstly, “promiscuity”. The comments made led the community to raise serious questions about how Halifax Pride views sex, sexual expression, gender expression, flamboyancy, and (to use one participant’s words,) “weirdness”. We want to be clear--Halifax Pride values, celebrates and loves all of those things. They are an integral part of how our community defines and expresses itself, and they are an integral part of Pride. We have never asked any festival participant to censor themselves, and (so long as no one’s breaking the law) we never will. We want the community to express itself fully and whole-heartedly through Pride--that’s at the core of who we are as an organization.

Secondly, “family-friendliness”. We heard from the community how using the term “family-friendly” created an impression that we were trying to tone down Pride, or make it “mainstream”. Again, that wasn’t our intention, and it doesn’t reflect the Pride Festival we’re trying to offer. Pride serves a community that includes families of all shapes, sizes, and genders, many of which are very different from the “mainstream”. We don’t want to tone that down--we want a Pride that celebrates it. We also want to emphasize that families with young children will find lots to do at Pride, including a post-parade kids area that’s bigger and better than ever. That’s what being “family-friendly” means to us--creating an atmosphere where our community’s families are welcomed and included in the fun.

Finally, “professionalism”. This Halifax Pride Board strives for increased professionalism--meaning fiscal responsibility, effective decision-making and accountability to the community we serve. We heard from you that our emphasis on “professionalism” can sound like we want a Pride Festival that only appeals to “professionals”. That’s not at all our vision for the Pride Festival. We want a Festival that appeals to a community that is diverse in class, age, race and gender--in short, a community like Halifax. And we want to be professional in bringing it to you. That’s why we emphasize professionalism, and we regret if it came across any differently.

We heard lots more. We heard that we can improve how we communicate with you, and with the media. We heard how important it is to make the right decisions around corporate sponsorships, and to be transparent in those decisions. We heard the importance of having good policies, of encouraging community participation, and of celebrating our diversity.

And we heard something else, too. We heard that this community really cares about Halifax Pride. You care how it’s run, you care how you’re reflected the Festival and you care how the Board do our jobs. You care enough to tell us about it, and you care enough to help out when we need you. Running an event like Halifax Pride, we can sometimes feel over-worked, over-criticized and under-appreciated. Sometimes it’s hard to hear constructive criticism. But, when we as a Board reflected on all the feedback, we realized how inspiring it is to work with a community who cares as much as this one does.

We promise you--we heard you. We hope this statement responds to some of your concerns. We hope you’ll see that we’re incorporating your feedback into how we run the organization. We hope--along with you--that Halifax Pride 2011 is everything this community wants and needs it to be.

Yours in Pride, The Halifax Pride Board of Directors

Media Coverage