Galway Pride Festival 2017- CANCELLED
Dear community members,
It is with sadness that we announce the cancellation of Galway Pride Festival 2017.
This decision was not taken lightly and we sincerely apologise to anyone that is inconvenienced. Ultimately, the community is not best served by having 2 competing pride celebrations. Additionally, going ahead with this year’s festival is no longer an option while personal attacks continue to be levelled against us and our sponsors.
At the conclusion of the festival last year, there were monies outstanding to a number of the committee’s creditors. Before those debts could be settled however, accusations of misconduct were brought against us. Despite numerous attempts to resolve these difficulties with the committee privately, they did in fact hold a meeting which we continue to assert was an unfair, biased, and unnecessarily public disciplinary procedure. We admit to having made mistakes in the organisation of last years festival. However, the severity of the backlash that we’ve experienced as a result of those allegations has been wholly unjust. To this day, we continue to be harassed online with allegations of theft and misappropriation. In fact, the opposite is the case.
To honour the commitments we’d made to our suppliers for the main event at the Black Box last year, we secured a loan in the amount of €5,000 from a relative of Eugene’s. This money would float us through the festival and was to be repaid immediately following the weekend, when the takings for the main event had been lodged to the committee’s bank account. Despite the weekend being a success and the funds being available to clear this debt, a legal case had to be brought against the committee to force repayment. Galway District Court granted judgement against the committee and it was only 2 weeks ago, 11 months after this money was lent to the festival, that it was finally repaid.
This is the truth of the matter regarding the €5,000 from last year.
Any allegations of theft against either of us are completely unfounded. In actuality, we personally covered over €2,000 in operating expenses for last years festival out of our own pockets, with the agreement that those expenses would be repaid. To date, those expenses continue to remain outstanding.
We joined the Pride committee last year with the intention of serving our community and we succeeded in delivering one of the largest and most successful Pride celebrations in recent years. Those achievements were only possible because of the immense support we received from the wider community.
What has been eye-opening and deeply worrying about this past year however is the danger that sustained online abuse poses to someone’s mental health. We’re not talking about the differing opinions or arguments taken by those who disagreed with us following Pride. Differing opinions are important and debate is essential for growth. We do however seem incapable of being able to constructively disagree with each other in this community without it irreconcilably dividing us. What we are referring to are the death threats, bullying, harassment, and anonymous emails and messages that we continue to receive, belittling our character, insulting our family members and questioning our right to exist in this community. We chose not to respond to these attacks as we will never fight hatred with hatred.
Trolling is not activism. It is not brave and it is not smart. It is abuse and it goes against everything that Pride stands for; inclusivity and support. If we as a community don’t collectively take a stand against trolling and online abuse, it threatens the safety and mental well-being of everyone, from our most vulnerable to our strongest community members.
While this experience has been one of the most challenging that either of us has faced, we will continue to be strong advocates for the LGBT community, both in Galway and beyond.
Wherever or however you celebrate Pride this year, be safe and be true to yourself. Most importantly however, be kind.
Bruce Henry and Eugene Burke
Galway Pride Festival