The stewards of the World Pride franchise issued a press release late yesterday about the Pride Toronto censorship controversy.
In it the international association of Pride organizers, Interpride, neither supports nor condemns Pride Toronto's choice to censor the term "Israeli apartheid" from this year's Toronto Pride parade. Interpride's stated aim in issuing the release is, rather, to clear up what it sees as a misperception.
"It was never our intention to suggest that Interpride would withdraw Pride Toronto's hosting of World Pride 2014 and any interpretation along those lines is misleading and incorrect," reads the Interpride release.
That contradicts the June 4 [clarification: PT resolution was passed May 21, released to public June 4] Pride Toronto board censorship resolution which reads:
"The Co-Presidents of InterPride, owners of the WorldPride brand who accepted Pride Toronto’s bid to host the 2014 WorldPride that includes a large scale international human rights program amongst other festivities, have written to the Board of Pride Toronto indicating that they would consider the inclusion of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) '…in our [WorldPride] event inappropriate and somewhat alarming.'"
Interpride is not the first group to contradict part of the Pride Toronto censorship resolution.
In the resolution Pride Toronto blames QuAIA for "loss of funding from Canada Council for the Arts ($34,000) with an enclosed DVD of the Middle East conflict in the rejection package." But earlier this week a spokesperson for the Canada Arts Council told Xtra that QuAIA has nothing to do with the failure of the grant application. Further, she said, the DVD was part of the supporting materials submitted with the application and that it is standard practice for the Arts Council to return those materials to the applicant. The Arts Council did not include an unsolicited DVD about the Middle East with its rejection letter to Pride Toronto. The Arts Council spokesperson said it was all likely a misunderstanding and that Pride Toronto agreed to clarify the matter on its website. But neither clarification nor the original board censorship resolution is available on pridetoronto.com.
Xtra learned subsequently that at least two DVDs about the Middle East were submitted to the Arts Council; one of them was produced by QuAIA spokesperson Elle Flanders.
UPDATE 11 JUNE 10:45 am – Sav's suggestion in the comments below that one person submitted the application to the Arts Council, and another recieved the rejection package is consistent with information gathered in Xtra's investigation.
Sharon Switzer, exectuvie director of the Toronto Urban Film Festival, assembled the application on behalf of Pride Toronto.
"My understanding that board members saw the returned material and didn’t understand why stuff was being returned and didn’t understand the context," she says. "I was told there was no other separate document that wasn’t returned to us. I was told they got back what I sent."
Switzer has volunteered to curate the Video Art is Queer progam at Pride for the past three years. That's what the Arts Council funding application was for. Switzer says this is the first year funding was denied but that she does not believe it was because of the the DVDs about the Middle East included with the application.
UPDATE 11 JUNE 3 pm By Marcus McCann – The ranks of the so-called Pride Toronto refuseniks — those who have refused honours from the organization out of protest over the censorship decision — grew again today after the 2010 Youth Leadership Award winners turned it down. In an open letter addressed to Pride Toronto's board of directors, the Unity Conference Committee wrote:
"The reasons and rhetoric why Pride is censoring language are the same that are used against educators speaking about sexuality, gender identity, homophobia and transphobia in schools."
Makes you wonder who, exactly, is going to get the hardware at their Gala and Awards Ceremony on June 30.
UPDATE 12 JUNE 5:30 pm By Matt Mills – I notice today that a Pride Toronto baord resolution document, this one minus the Canada Council for the Arts clause, is available now on pridetoronto.com. Is it standard practice I wonder to edit board resolutions or minutes after the fact without note?
Another interesting document there, a May 13 letter to PT from Ontario tourism minister Micheal Chan. On the PT website it's entitled "Ministry of Tourism Letter of Support." It's dated May 13, more than a week before the PT board censorship vote. It's CCd to Liberal MPPs Glen Murray and Kathleen Wynne.