2 min

Nasty free for all

The annual Pride post mortem turned into a wild night as frustrated critics rained on the committee’s parade.

“Can I have one voice at a time?” pleaded Pride co-chair David

Clarke over a chorus of incomprehensible shouting. “We can’t hear…” he continued, voice drowned out by the din of the full house at the 519 Church Street Community Centre on Jul 13.

The meeting started out with complaints about the way chairs were set up – in rows, rather than, as one person demanded, in a circle. Things escalated from there.

Accusations of racism kept the meeting from barely covering half the agenda items over the course of three hours.

The one Pride that fit all simply didn’t, according to Lezlie, on behalf of Queer Women Colouring The Century. (She refused to back up her allegations with her full name.)

“Based on our meetings with you [the Pride committee] and the racist remarks which were made and not challenged, we are asking for accountability and responsibility on the part of your members and the larger queer community,” said Lezlie, reading off a handout that was distributed around the room.

The group wanted a verbal apology to be followed by a public one, for a comment allegedly made by Pride co-chair Tami Kazan at a Jun 3 meeting. (An official apology was not made.)

Kazan apparently told members of the women’s group that “now we have a multicultural stage…. at least you… did not have to sit in the back of the bus anymore.”

Kazan later told Xtra: “It’s a sensitive issue – the situation was taken a little out of context.

“What I said at that meeting was taken out of context.”

Audience member Carol Thames said that over the years, she’s watched white gay men dominate the committee.

“We can’t just pat each other on the back – there are issues we need to address.

“I was not about ready to jump into that kettle of fish,” Thames added, explaining why she didn’t involve herself with the committee this year.

“To bring about change every one of us in this room needs to get involved,” said Pride’s Colin Leishman. “If everyone here tonight makes a commitment to come out in the fall – that is what’s needed.”

Dyke March chair Jenn Theissen spoke up, outlining initiatives she wants to see implemented for next year. “This year we worked together with women of colour really well,” she says.

“White privileged women really learned of their struggles. But I still think that we aren’t hearing each other.”

Theissen would like to see mandatory anti-oppression and anti-racism training for all involved with Pride.

As the evening carried on, tempers wore thin.

“We’re all afraid of each other – guys of girls, blacks of whites,” said Antoinette Oliphant. “There’s so much fear that no one has time to listen. Come on guys – peace, love, happiness.”

After the meeting, Kazan said she was pleased with Pride overall and that she and other committee members keep getting stopped in the street and thanked.

“It would have been nice to have those people come out [to the post mortem] in droves,” she said.

She said that after the meeting a man told her it was the best pride he’s ever experienced.

“I gave him a hug and said you should have been there two hours ago at The 519 – I almost wanted to cry.”