In the mid-holiday haze of a waning 2022, many Haligonians’ thumbs stopped, mid-doom-scroll at the sight of it: An Instagram post that stood out so wildly from the typical late-year feed of festive scenes that it felt like the social media equivalent of a record scratch. A wall of text, written first-person but without a name attached to it, the image—posted on December 29 on Halifax Pride’s official account—garnered a flurry of comments. Though since deleted, screenshots of it continue to reverberate around Twitter and Facebook. “We were just as upset and shocked at previous boards [sic] behaviour and destruction of community relationships,” it read, in part. “Pride 2023 won’t be happening.” (This is something Pride has since backpedaled, saying in a statement made earlier this month that “we do intend on hosting events this year that are reflective of the community’s needs.”) For those who missed the initial “calling out” that this post referenced in passing, more questions were raised than answered.
Across various individual’s Instagram profiles and closed, 2SLGBTQ+ Facebook groups, people—many former Pride employees and volunteers—shared their own take on the post and what sparked it. Some even screenshot photos of Pride’s current board of directors chair, its vice chair and its secretary to share their stories about what was described in the deleted post as a “mess” of a work environment.
The smoulder of gossip then became a wildfire. Soon, an updated second post by the same unnamed author appeared on Pride’s Instagram (it, too, has since been deleted). “As of now we are no longer a working board and cannot move forward with pride 2023 until we sort this situation out,” the post’s caption stated, admitting that the original post “did more harm than good.”
If this was a peek behind the curtain that it insinuated it was, the scene on display is a messy one. It would end up taking Pride itself until January 9 to post an official statement, which clarified tentative plans for a 2023 event and denied the earlier statement that the organization didn’t have a functional board. In the January 9 statement—which, for the first time, read like a press release and not a first-person missive from the heart of the chaos—Pride also mentioned a special general meeting will be hosted via zoom on January 23.
As an unattributed claim of workplace abuse spread via screenshot, Pride’s Jan 9 post acknowledged the turmoil: “On behalf of the Halifax Pride organization, we would like to apologize to all of the individuals who were impacted by the working conditions of the Halifax Pride festival in years prior,” it stated in italics.
As of January 2, a Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stocks sees one new member being added to the board, bringing the total number of directors to eight. Previous changes to the board composition were registered on December 30 and November 23 of last year.
It’s not the first time Halifax Pride has weathered controversy: Back in 2016, a former vice-chair was charged with defrauding the organization of more than $16,000. In June 2021, meanwhile, Pride was pulled into the discourse as the festival ended its longstanding partnership with Halifax Public Libraries, over the library’s decision to stock the anti-trans book Irreversible Damage.