2 min

Time for a conscious choice

Gay community must deliberately pick future direction of Pride

Credit: Xtra West files

A few weeks ago the Vancouver Pride Society convened a meeting to discuss how the community felt about the Pride events and the parade and what route and what direction the parade should take.

No celebration can be achieved without funding from somewhere, from someone. Like many other Pride societies, who have undergone the question of who they were, how big they were, how big they wanted to be, who they were in the community, and more importantly, what they want to be in the community, VPS has itself reached that point. Actually, we reached that point a number of years ago.

The starting point of the parade, its direction, and its ending point are in my opinion the last items in the order of discussion. We know that we have outgrown our parade route and our festival area. We have known this for a number of years now. This is a good thing! But, before we debate details about the parade we first have to answer other questions.

We need to overcome the state of perpetual chaos that the Vancouver VPS is existing in. That’s taking nothing from each and every pride board. Each, in their way has managed the chaos to the best of their ability. But I believe that we must now decide to grow up and appreciate that we will continue to grow, or, alternatively, decide to grow up and remain the small Pride that we have been. Neither is wrong. Neither is right. But, in my opinion it must be a choice that we as a community together make.

My vote would be to continue to grow. This means setting new priorities and giving the VPS a new vision and a new direction. This can only be accomplished by creating a minimum of three paid positions: an executive director, a sponsorship coordinator and an office manager. These positions are needed to run the day to day affairs of Pride. They are needed to maintain the ongoing vision of Pride, the ongoing fundraising activities year round and a Pride office that is open year round. Only in this manner can the volunteer board then do its job.

We know that the Vancouver Pride Society does not have the funds to pay for these positions. This then, is the first order of business. The board needs something in the neighbourhood of $150,000 to $200,000 to pay for these positions. There are sponsors out there that would be prepared to put their money forward to begin this process, if there was a plan and if that plan showed what they would get back for their investment.

Vancouver has been inviting the world to come and join in the celebration of what the city has to offer. We as the gay community have that opportunity as well, and we celebrate who we are. We can continue in the chaos that we have been to date, or we can choose to grow and celebrate and share our achievements beyond our city and with our city or remain with our current chaos. It is our choice.

Neither is wrong. We just need to choose.

Personally, I would choose to move us out of the chaos and set a new vision. Once we have made this choice, we can then discuss the path of our parade, and what and where the festival elements will be. City hall and other Vancouver residents and businesses will work with our community. But first we must have a vision, and a direction for the implementation of that vision. It must be a vision that does not change with each year.

* Vince Marino is a former member of the board of directors of Vancouver Pride Society. Active in a handful of community groups and boards of directors, he is also a co-owner of the PumpJack Pub and the Fountainhead Pub.