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Friday, June 2, 2017

Halifax Pride addresses pinkwashing by discontinuing community fair

A community market, focused on queer crafters and non-profits, will take place instead.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 2, 2017 at 3:52 PM

click to enlarge ALLIE GRAHAM
  • ALLIE GRAHAM

Halifax Pride is nixing booths from its festival grounds ahead of this year’s celebration. 

The change was announced late last month, several months after October’s tumultuous AGM, during which a “pinkwashing motion” brought forth by members of Queer Arabs of Halifax (QAH) was voted down.

According to the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project
, pinkwashing usually refers to the act of a government or corporation painting itself as queer-friendly in order to gain a place at Pride celebrations or bolster its own publicity, even if it's done nothing to help LGBTQ+ causes in the past. A politician or government may engage in pinkwashing to distract from oppressive policies or actions.

Up until now, Pride’s festival grounds included a booth space, called the “community fair.” One major point of contention for QAH and its supporters was the presence of materials from Size Doesn’t Matter at the fair. The materials championed Tel Aviv’s LGBTQ+ community, and many felt it negated “the struggle of queer Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.”

“I think we all wish it had been addressed differently,” says Halifax Pride executive director Adam Reid, who was hired after the AGM.  “I think all parties kind of regret the way it was addressed.”

Reid says the discourse from last year was a symptom of a larger problem. The fair “had grown in a way that was too fast and not particularly thoughtful.”

“It wasn’t created with policy in mind around it,” says Reid, noting that the fair didn’t have a clear purpose. As a result, it became a catch-all, “whether it was sponsors who wanted to promote their activities, or it was artists who wanted to sell material.”

The rest of the usual activities on the grounds—mainstage performances, food vendors and kids’ area—will stay put, but the booths are no longer part of the festival.

A community market will be part of a new Gottingen Street block party event. Unlike the fair, this market has a policy to include LGBTQ+ not-for-profits and queer-identified crafters. Reid hopes the feel will be similar to the popular North by Night markets, but with a queer theme and aesthetic.

“It’s much more focused on community,” he says.


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