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Seize this moment

Seize this moment

New leadership at three of our most influential organizations means opportunity
Almost simultaneously, Tim Richards, Dara Parker and Stephen Regan have become the respective heads of Pride, Qmunity and the West End BIA.

A rare confluence of leadership change in key community organizations that presents opportunities to think, act, reach out and chart new courses creatively — and dare we dare — collectively.

So far, the audio from all three sounds promising.

Take Richards, who says he’s a big believer in supporting people to be successful.

“I believe if we can get to a point where we can take that passion and energy and figure out how we do more and greater things within and outside our community, these are the types of conversations I’d like to see more of. Less about the past conversations.”

Well . . . yes. And no.

Yes, because the problem with many of the “past conversations” is the habit they have of degenerating into noisy, futile negativity. I’m sure we can all do with fewer reports of multiple resignations, accusations of bad blood at the board level and acrimony over what bylaws mean and don’t mean.

But keeping history in mind in the movement forward can be handy. It provides an informative, if not always heeded, reminder of what ought not to be repeated.

Case in point: the chaotic leadup to London’s recently concluded WorldPride festivities. Initially fuzzy about whether there were problems or not, host Pride London, with mere days to go, shockingly announced it was pulling cars and floats from the July 7 parade, reducing it to a procession; cancelled official events in the gay district of Soho; and time-proscribed a planned rally at Trafalgar Square due to a funding shortfall.

Reports on the weekend celebrations suggest the event was still a success, despite the significant downsizing, heavy rains and the loud blame game that emerged over who bore responsibility for the crisis.

Depending on who you ask, fault is angrily levelled at the feet of London’s Conservative mayor and city authorities for not doing more to bail out the floundering event, the Pride London board, or both.

The blurry truth lies somewhere in the mélée.

But one particular thread of the acrimony caught my attention: the belief in some quarters that as a community organization responsible for shepherding the event, Pride London had lost its way.

“Poor leadership is what led us into this situation, and wholesale change is the only way in which we’ll resurrect Pride going forward,” writes James-J Walsh, a former Pride London associate director.

“It’s not like London is devoid of either LGBT commercial events, or activism,” Walsh notes. “What a successful event needs to do is draw all of these elements together, as a community that celebrates difference, but also unites.”

Point taken.

Let’s rejig that formula.

A thriving, vibrant queer community needs to bring all its elements together. It needs to recognize its differences while being committed to fostering collaboration and — yes, that hackneyed, elusive goal — unity.

At a time when there’s increasing movement of community out of gay villages and into the mainstream, our organizations do not have the luxury of maintaining a parochial approach to the way they do their business or their activism.

There’s certainly no shortage of individuals here committed to fostering inclusive community.

Hearing her friends speak of the dearth of Pride events for trans people, people of colour and those with various accessibility needs, promoter Pussy Liquor came up with Genderfest to bring together existing events “so that everyone can participate in their community during Pride.”

Then there’s recent Simon Fraser University graduate Paige Frewer, who co-spearheaded This is Your Q to collectively brainstorm three critical questions: What matters most to our community? What are the most pressing local queer issues? How can we better unify to address them?

Why can’t our long-standing organizations, now under new leadership, take a page from Genderfest’s and This is Your Q’s outreach books?

WEBIA and Qmunity’s new leadership say they’re in strategic planning mode. Richards is all over the idea of ensuring good governance moving forward with Pride.

Promising.

But as the folks behind Genderfest and This is Your Q recognize, what’s needed is innovation, gushes of fresh energy, and willingness to seriously engage with the myriad constituencies that make up our whole.

We have, potentially, an opportunity for imaginative reinvigoration. The least we can do is indulge in a little carpe diem.
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Comments

Sameness
I can name at least three people in that list Todd that are putting on false fronts to others, not that you haven't pulled off some precious things yourself sweetie. I can also name about three people in that list you gave involved in the drug trade to some extent in this city with one currently under investigation right now for not just that but a few other things. But aren't they just the coolest!? Yes, Pride and the community is alive and well in Vancouver with the same circle pulling off the same old things, it's another reason we aren't a major gay destination. Well, unless you are from places like Cochrane, Alberta. What-a-bore.
Cooperation
It's funny that when talking about Pride and inclusion that other promoters and events have been working together to promote and cooperate this year. A loose collective between MN Events, Bearracuda, TFD Presents, Big Roger Events, DIXX, bar managers and djs have been working behind the scenes to support one another and diffuse any potential issues that pop up.

Vancouver's pride promoters are working behind the scenes to make sure everyone has a great time and our fair city is presented in a fully cooperative way.

Thanks to people like Michel Nadeau, Tommy D, Taffi Louis, Matt Bearracuda, Brandon Gaukel Seime, Soono Sinha and others, I hope this year's celebrations will be successful and fun for everyone involved. I hope this becomes the new standard and thanks to everyone else not mentioned for coming together!
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