The parade will go on. But now it’s up to you to ensure its survival. While challenging Ottawa’s queer community to join them in donating, Capital Xtra Jul 10 announced a $20,000 loan to the Pride Committee of Ottawa-Gatineau to ensure that the 2006 festival goes ahead.
“It’s up to each and every member of our community to ensure that Pride this year succeeds,” associate publisher Gareth Kirkby told a media conference at the Elgin St Human Rights Monument. “That the 20th anniversary of Pride in the nation’s capital lives up to its place in history.”
This year’s festival will be renamed Capital Pride, to underline that Ottawa’s celebration is national as well as local in both scale and importance, says Kirkby, noting that same-sex marriage rights will again be debated in Parliament this fall.
Kirkby shook hands with Darren Fisher, the chair of the Pride Committee of Ottawa-Gatineau. “We have confidence in the committee’s financial plan, in their excellent treasurer, in the hard work they’re doing to carry off the celebration,” says Kirkby.
Fisher spoke of the importance of having a Pride Week festival in Ottawa despite city council’s Jun 29 rejection of an emergency bailout. The board was on the verge of cancelling the festival and declaring bankruptcy when Capital Xtra made its offer, he says.
But the festival is not out of the woods yet. The Capital Xtra bailout is a loan repayable after the Aug 21-27 festivities wrap up. It’s up to Ottawa queers to donate to the organization if they don’t want to see bankruptcy declared in the autumn.
“We at Capital Xtra challenge each and every member of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans communities of Ottawa and region, to step up to the plate, and make a cash donation to Pride,” challenges Kirkby.
“Individuals and businesses. Buy a membership. Buy a 20th anniversary pin. Go to official Pride events. Pay the gate fee. Buy a beer in the beer garden.
“Do it all. And bring your friends.”
In response to media questions about the importance of Pride, Kirkby noted the parade and picnic in particular help connect gay youth and older closeted gays and lesbians to the community. They see happy out gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans having fun, forming community and enjoying friends.
“The parade literally saves lives,” says Kirkby. “Not many festivals can do that.”
The mayor and suburban and rural councillors, in particular, voted against the Pride’s request for $20,000 in emergency funding at the Jun 29 council meeting. This is the first time that the Pride Committee applied for emergency cash. Earlier this spring, council bailed out the Franco-Ontarien festival with a $75,000 infusion and the Tulip Festival with $50,000. Both festivals were in a similar position to that of the Pride Committee.
The risk of losing this year’s festival has sparked renewed awareness in the community.
One Ottawa resident brought a $20 bill to Pride to Capital Xtra’s office two hours after she first heard the news in a radio interview. Others have followed. Kirkby asks that people donate directly to the Pride committee. There’s a direct payment option on the Pride committee’s website — www.prideottawa.com.
“The festival is fairly back on track with the cash flow,” says Fisher. “But if you want it big, you need to get involved… together we will make it happen.”