Vancouver
3 min

Bashline solution

Line will merge with The Centre's Prideline

TIME FOR SOMETHING NEW. Vince Marino, a safety committee member, says merging the Bashline with The Centre's Prideline is the best solution to the moribund service. Details have yet to be worked out. Credit: Robin Perelle

After months of deliberation, the gay safety committee has decided to scrap the existing Bashline and merge it with The Centre’s Prideline.



Based in the Yaletown Community Policing Centre (CPC), the Bashline has been under fire for a long time in the gay community. Ever since its inception five years ago, at the hands of the Vancouver Police Department, the community has been reluctant to embrace it.



The line has suffered from a chronic lack of volunteers, leaving many distraught callers with just an answering machine to talk to, rather than a live person. Many callers say their messages have gone unanswered for days, if not longer.



Now they’re no longer answered at all. As of Nov 7, the Bashline’s message says it is no longer in service and urges callers to call the Prideline or victim services.



The community lost confidence in the Bashline, says Vince Marino, who sits on the gay safety committee and co-owns the PumpJack and Fountainhead pubs. The Bashline is no longer a good solution to the community’s bashing problem. That’s why it’s time for something new, he says.



Enter the Prideline, The Centre’s resource, referral and crisis line. It already operates daily from 7-10 pm, is staffed by a group of trained volunteers and fields calls on a variety of issues, from coming out to safer sex to violence in relationships.



It’s a good fit, Marino says. Merging the two lines will pool the community’s limited resources and eliminate any duplication between the lines. “I’m a big proponent of centralizing resources,” he says.



Chris Morrissey, one of two Centre representatives on the safety committee, agrees. “Duplication doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” she says. It’s time to combine the lines’ resources and pour them into a stronger, revamped Prideline capable of handling bashing calls.



Marino hopes to add a bashing module to the next round of Prideline training, including instructions on how to deal with hate crimes, when to call 911 and what resources to offer callers trying to cope with a bashing. He’s not sure when the enhanced training session will take place but he’s eyeing January as a possibility.



The Centre’s director, Donna Wilson, says it’s too soon to set a date. Though the Centre’s board of directors has approved the merger in principal, Wilson says the real discussion is only just beginning.



The board has a lot of details to work out with the safety committee, she says. It’s too early in the discussion to say much more than that.



Wilson will say, though, that she thinks the merger is a good idea because the Prideline already has a solid structure in place for providing resources.



Marino wants to see the new and improved Prideline up and running by Feb 1.



Despite some initial reluctance, fellow safety committee member Jim Deva has added his support to the merger, too.



The Prideline is already “excellent” at plugging people into resources, Deva says, echoing Wilson. It only makes sense to add bashing resources to its list. It should be a “win-win” situation, he says.



He didn’t always think so. Until recently, Deva was committed to maintaining a separate Bashline and moving it from the Yaletown to the Davie Community Policing Centre. Now, he admits, his commitment stemmed more from a desire to keep the Bashline as a symbol of resistance, than from a feasible plan.



That kind of determination led to some tense discussions in the safety committee. Though Deva attributes much of the tension to his own stubbornness, Marino says Deva is not to blame. If there was tension, it was due to different decision-making processes clashing, he says. Some people wanted to discuss all the pros and cons of each idea, while others just wanted action. Though Marino says he sees merits to both approaches, there comes a time when “you have to take a stand” and make a decision.



And he is more than satisfied with the committee’s ultimate decision, which unanimously backed merging the two phone lines. So is Deva.



“I think it brings our focus back to the community’s centre,” Deva says, and that’s a positive thing.



An enhanced Prideline, equipped to address the issue of gay-bashing, will only strengthen the Centre, Deva says. And that will make the Centre more relevant to the community as a whole.



PRIDELINE:

604.684.6869 or 1.800.566.1170.



VANCOUVER POLICE DEPARTMENT’S VICTIM SERVICES:

604.717.2737.



BASHLINE:

604.899.6203.