Capital Pride invites writer of homophobic op/ed to attend 2013 Parade
“I really feel it’s out of pure ignorance,” says outgoing Capital Pride chair Loresa Novy. Like most members of the LGBT community In Ottawa and elsewhere, Novy was “appalled” by semi-retired Ottawa Citizen columnist Janice Kennedy’s Aug 24 op/ed “What does tacky sex have to do with gay pride?” especially since Kennedy had never attended the Parade which she criticized with such prejudice.
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In typical polite, Canadian style, Loresa Novy has invited Ottawa Citizen columnist Janice Kennedy to attend Capital Pride’s 2013 Parade. “I would invite her to sit down at a Pride parade and see her opinions change. If she had been to one, I don’t think she would have written what she did,” Novy told 2B via Skype last night. “We’ll even have a chair for her,” Novy proffers.
“I really feel it’s out of pure ignorance. Really, to say [Pride]‘s tacky, it doesn’t make any sense. ‘Tacky’ is a very subjective word, and I feel she used it out of pure ignorance,” says Novy, who will be stepping down as Chair of Capital Pride after what was admittedly their biggest most inclusive event yet. (She was too busy cleaning up Marion Dewar Plaza with her brigade of volunteers on Monday to be reached for comment about the offensive piece.)
This year’s “pageant of monumental bad taste,” (as Kennedy called Capital Pride’s community event) included such “displays of rampant horniness” as the Ottawa-Carlton district School Board, fire fighters and first responders (fully clothed), Canadian Forces (they asked, we’re told), and more religious groups than any other year. Part of what made Janice Kennedy’s “What does tacky sex have to do with gay pride?” column so offensive was that the self-proclaimed “unregenerate leftie” “did not do any research; [Kennedy] had never been to any of the events,” Novy decried. Saying she is still routinely harassed on the street in Ottawa for holding hands with her girlfriend, Novy told 2B she and her 135 volunteers deserve better than to be the subject of contempt in a major newspaper.
“There’s a sense of shock that something like this would appear in The Citizen,” the thoughtful Capital Pride Chair told us. While some were busy celebrating over the weekend and paid no attention to the homophobic op/ed, other volunteers and Board members who read it were “appalled,” and beleaguered by having no time to respond to what they viewed as discriminatory and, for some, “bigoted,” as Capital Pride attendee and CHUOfm radio host Danniel Oickle said on his “Anything but Vanilla” radio show yesterday.
The fact that Kennedy’s column was able to “slip past” editors at the Citizen was a source of consternation for Oickle (coverboy from our 2011 Capital Pride issue) and other observers in Ottawa, especially since the Southam News/Postmedia-owned publication tends to offer annual fluff-pieces on Capital Pride’s ultra-inclusive main event. While the OC editor-in-chief Gerry Nott and Senior online editor Melanie McCoulson have ignored repeated requests for comment on Kennedy’s attack-piece, they did publish a heavily critical letter to the editor on Saturday entitled “Irrelevant sexuality” by Kelly from Kanata. Kelly asks the columnist to “check her privilege”, while blogger JM Cardie echoed the belief that Kennedy must not ever have seen how buttoned-up Capital Pride actually is.
“[Kennedy's] view that it is no more than a hedonistic orgy on wheels doesn’t at all reflect how the march actually is. It is far more mundane, involving dozens of groups walking down to show their support for various causes.” For Cardie, Kennedy also missed the more profound point that Capital Pride is not just for homosexual male exhibitionism: “It is a nexus for all those who want to show solidarity with issues surrounding the body, of which sexual orientation is only one small part.”
So how does the hard-working Chair of Capital Pride think this offensive, reductionist, homophobic op/ed slipped by Janice Kennedy’s editors, or get written in the first place?
“She’s been retired for 8 years now, and she’s clearly out of the loop. To be able to peddle such hate in a paper that’s read so widely in our city is uncalled for.”
“There are many families who bring their children to the parade, it’s a very family-friendly parade.” Loresa Novy nuances, however, that there may be very obvious reasons that Kennedy has such a skewed view of their festivities. “I feel like Kennedy was going by what the mainstream media chooses to cover,” Novy laments, adding that while she loves her drag queens, kings, and leather community, those super-photogenic parts of Pride are not representative of what most of the 30,000 people who attend and march in Capital Pride wear and identify as. Needless to say, the boys at Mr. Leather Ottawa won best float this year (with first responders a close second).
Various e-mails to editor-in-chief Gerry Nott and Senior online editor Melanie McCoulson have remained unanswered, and no comment on Kennedy’s column was made by the Ottawa Citizen until today. Tonight (Wed Aug 29), they published a critical counterpoint by gay journalist Justin Ling entitled “Why pride is about sex”. Reached this evening by telephone, Editorial Pages Editor David Watson told 2B he didn’t think Kennedy’s piece was “out of the realm of reasonable discourse,” and that he “felt badly” for the criticism being heaped at his columnist. Although he stood by his columnist, saying that she “typically has very solid judgement,” Watson admitted that it was his deputy, Kate Heartfield, who approved the piece for publication, and not himself. “I don’t agree with Janice on this particular topic,” Watson also said.
Banner photo: Capital Pride 2011, Ottawa Tourism Flickr