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Up next: What will CAP recommend to Pride Toronto?

Up next: What will CAP recommend to Pride Toronto?

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Common threads from public meetings about festival's future
The announcement of big deficits. The resignation of its executive director. An acrimonious GM.

It's been a long week for the folks at Pride Toronto (PT). So what's next?

The Community Advisory Panel (CAP) will present its recommendations to the Pride Toronto (PT) board of directors on Feb 8, and it is widely expected to precipitate big changes at PT.

Pride Coalition for Free Speech (PCFS) member Ashleigh Ingle says the group has watched the CAP consultation process closely and hears a clear, resounding message from the gay, lesbian, bi and trans communities.

“What we saw at the public consultations was pretty unambiguous,” she says. “We heard, ‘Get your house in order and don’t isolate the community.’"

On Jan 22, the PCFS met to talk about about the CAP process in advance of PT’s Jan 27 general meeting.

“A fundamental message for us is the board must not be willing to sell out our community,” says Ingle. “The saddest part for us last year, last Pride, is we really saw the board of directors abandon what we see to be the roots of Pride. They chose to side with corporate and government sponsors over the community.”

CAP, comprising nine people and chaired by Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes, is billed as an “independent panel," unelected but charged with consulting with the community on the future of the festival and reporting back to PT.

The panel held five general public meetings in December. It also held about 30 private targeted consultations, collected about 1,600 surveys and scrolled through pages of Facebook messages. The CAP report and recommendations will be presented at a public meeting on or about Feb 14.

At the meetings, a handful of attendees suggested PT consider hosting two Pride parades as a way to satisfy the division between those who want a broadly inclusive parade and those who want to limit the attendance of controversial groups. But many of the attendees laughed off that suggestion. At the Gladstone Hotel on Dec 4, PT board member and PCFS member Roy Mitchell joked that there should perhaps be “six parades, one for every colour of the rainbow flag.”

Ingle says a CAP recommendation for two or more Pride organizations would not reflect what CAP heard during the consultation process.

“PCFS feels recommending PT host two Prides would be an abject failure on the part of CAP,” she says. “There can be a number of different events hosted by a number of different people at Pride, but that’s very different from a call to move political messages out of the main parade. If that is part of CAP, we see that as censorship.”

PCFS's Kim Koyama adds that PT should always be prepared to defend free expression.

On Jan 21, Hawkes told Xtra the PT board will hear CAP’s recommendations before they are released to the public. Ingle says this is a bad decision.

“I think it's very important PT and the community receive this report at the same time,” she says.

“Giving the board a chance to make changes is clearly a problem. If they are there to represent the community, I don’t see why we all shouldn’t get the report at the same time.”

*

THREE COMMON THREADS FROM THE COMMUNITY ADVISORY PANEL'S PUBLIC MEETINGS:



The Corporatization of Pride

CAP heard over and over again that PT management ought to fight against city hall and corporations and not against the gay community.

At the trans panel on Dec 9, Savannah Garmon echoed the sentiment.

"We all oppose the 'bigger is better' mentality. That’s diluting the message of Pride."

So, if it comes down to a choice between funding with strings attached, PCFS says the board should take a pass on the cash.

"Pride can not let corporate sponsors dictate who can participate and who can't," says Koyama. "Funding can't be contingent on certain conditions."

Structure and governance


Participants expressed worry about the financial situation at PT. Organizers need to bring PT to a place where its financials are in order and decisions are made in full view of the public and the roots of Pride remain intact, says Ingle. Going forward, the organization should be managed by those who value the interests of the entire community.

To do this, Ingle says PT needs to overhaul its entire structure. She hopes to hear a recommendation that will lead the board to a place where they will never again need a CAP-like body.

Accountability

At the racialized forum on Dec 14, Akim Adé Larcher of the Black, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Coalition, said the source of PT’s problems is the highest levels of its leadership.

“If we want to fix anything, they have to accept that they need to resign,” said Larcher. “They have to understand that they have sufficiently damaged this community. They have to resign because it’s the right thing to do.”

The CAP recommendations should be followed by an election for a new board, Ingle says.

“If anyone feels they are unjustly kicked off, they can make that argument and go through a reelection process.”

Comments

Looks like Wong-Tam is a liar
The line from Wong Tam that "because no one has a credit card in the group" doesn't sound plausible and makes it pretty clear that she looks like a liar. Not surprizing from a politician who's worried about her own skin and prestige more than telling the truth
It's not a moot point
michel, I don't think it's a moot point. I now know that when Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam makes a public statement, it may not be true. I now know not to trust her.
Financing QuAIA 2
Mote point Steve, the girls got spunk
No credit card holders in QuAIA?
michel, the above-referenced Toronto Sun column does indicate that Kristyn Wong-Tam provided the following written statement: “When I was asked by a QuAIA member to lend my credit card number so that they can register a domain name because no one has a credit card in the group, I said okay.” When I first read that statement during last year's municipal election campaign, I immediately assumed that she was not being upfront. After all, it's hard to believe that no one in QuAIA has a credit card. For example, some QuAIA supporters are university teachers and are shown in publicly-available government documents as making over $100,000 per year.
Financing QuAIA
Oh Charlie L. your too much. so Krystan Wong-Tam likely paid $10 bucks for the initial registration (that was nice of her) Wordpress themes are free and site maintenance is easy, piece of cake. If you had bothered to do a whois you would find out Tim McCaskell owns the website. The rest of yor comment is just scurrilous nonsence.
The best things in life are free...
Here's the ultimate - according to Councillor Krystan Wong-Tam she financed and owned the QUAIA website because according to her none of them had a credit card to pay for the site - so she stepped up for them. See http://www.torontosun.com/comment/columnists/sueann_levy/2010/09/23/15457101.html So a group of people that apparently do not qualify for a credit card between them has decided Pride should not accept sponsorship funds if they can't pursue their (offensive and false) anti-Israel agenda at gay pride. Good luck with the new small angry 1981 no money Pride - it's been fun.
Not a problem
I used to be the sponsorship coordinator for PT and I can honestly say that sponsors have *no* voice in programming.They never asked for it, we never offered it. That idea is simply false. They might push us on more signage than we'd like, but that's it. The City of Toronto is in a completely different category, though. They are the ones who approve the permits to hold thhe parade (on city property), agree to police it for free, work with the TTC to reroute busses, etc. If they are no on board, Pride cannot happen, regardless whether they provide funds or not. And they *do* have the right to demand things from Pride before they issue those permits.
The Sydney option
Or we could do what Sydney does. Put on an amazing parade to which everyone is welcome. However, to do that we'd have to do two things: (1) Actually have to develop a culture of fabulous marching troops, bands, cool floats, etc. Our Pride is great, but it is long and tedious. There's not enough entertainment in it. (2) Tone down the rhetoric. Or at least limit the rhetoric to gay issues. You can't have anti-Israel signs at an event that is meant to be welcoming to people of all ethnicities, including Jews. Our Pride is (rightly) very political, but the end result is a rather tedious parade. But I honestly don't think we can achieve this in Toronto. Sydney is a fun city filled with fun Australians. Toronto is getting the Pride that reflects it as a city. And it wouldn't surprise me if Pride goes down the toilet. It would reflect the reality that we're in the end a very divided city.
GET RID of STRAIGHTS --SMALLER PRIDE
Get rid of all the Straight people from PRIDE --organizing it and especially attending it. Then we could all do anything we want--all inclusively without judging other LGBT. It would make a smaller PRIDE, because half the audience of PRIDE are Straights. Smaller PRIDE would cost less. We would not have to beg to corporations for money and not need to care if they don't give it to us. We could use more volunteer donations of equipment and entertainment and work. We could probably do it for free if everyone gave their time and skills for free. We could do it for eachother. Problem solved :-)
no women, bi, queer or trans folks allowed !
But straight tourists are welcome.

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