In Canada, gay Pride has gone corporate. Or so it would seem. Here’s the background:
Jamie Lee Hamilton is alarmed.
The transsexual activist says the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) is hassling her for using the word “Pride” on two events she’s got planned for this year’s celebrations.
The events in question–Man Pride and Tranny Pride–were scheduled to take place at Coxx Club on Aug 5 and 6, respectively.
But on Jul 8, VPS vice-president Aviva Lazar sent Hamilton an e-mail informing her that she must buy a membership in the Pride Society if she wants to use the now-trademarked word Pride.
“Please be advised that the word PRIDE(r) is a registered trademark held by Fierté Canada Pride in which the Vancouver Pride Society is a member and licensed user of this trademark,” Lazar wrote. “The VPS may, at our discretion, permit the use of the word PRIDE(r) and all its forms associated with advertising and promotions within the district and surrounding promotional areas of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.”
VPS is trying to require that all parties that want to term their events a “Pride” event join the VPS for CAD$20.00 per year.
People are not in agreement. VPS’s position is the following: “We’re talking about individuals who all of a sudden decide they want to do something to make a few bucks. They know the tourists are coming to town, that the gay community is looking for something to spend money on and they say, ‘I’m going to be gay for a day and I’m going to take the money and run.’”
Others disagree. “What the Pride board is forgetting here is that Pride is symbolic of queer freedom. It was a way for us to get together, share and celebrate our love and honour our lives.”
Attempting to trademark that is “ridiculous,” she continues. “I don’t think you can trademark something like that.”
No one can own the word Pride, agrees long-time Pride Society member Jim Deva.
Hamilton is “opening a can of worms,” says Penny, that could allow others to use the word Pride in ways that are detrimental to the VPS. “For somebody else to start using the Pride name is completely wrong,” he says. “I don’t know what Jamie Lee’s up to but she’s dead wrong. It isn’t much to affiliate with Pride and have it sanctioned.”
It should be interesting to see how this works its way through the system.