All for one – or one for all

Last year, as a committee member of English Riviera Pride, we held events for the LGBT community throughout the Bay.  We successfully raised over £2,200 for charity which was distributed to 3 charities, our local hospice (Rowcroft Hospice), an LGBT charity Eddystone Trust who do a lot of educational work about safe sex and other issues, and Mermaids, a charity which helps transgender children and their families.

A new committee was formed this year after several members left and it soon became apparent that forces were at work to undermine our efforts to raise money for charity, duplicating our events – they have even set themselves up as an alternative Pride event.  Whereas we hold our events spread out across the Bay supporting gay/trans friendly venues, the alternative Pride is based solely around one business and will therefore benefit just that one business to the detriment of the others.

We therefore ask them to reconsider what they are doing and to meet with us to try and work something out for the good of the whole community – and not just one small part of it.

One of the local businesses has just published an open letter – which I have reproduced verbatim below:-

AN IMPORTANT NOTE FROM A FUNDRAISER OF ENGLISH RIVIERA PRIDE AND OVER THE RAINBOW BALL

the logos of Greenway Ferries and Soho Wine Bar

In support of the official English Riviera Pride I am writing this note with some concern and confusion, as no doubt soon you will have the same dilemma and thoughts as me.

As many of you may or may not be aware my company Greenway Ferry and Pleasure Cruises has provided support to both the Rainbow Ball and English Riviera Pride for many years donating in excess of £20,000 during this time to both causes in way of donations or monitory support. Being a company, which is gay, owned and operated and with a high percentage of gay staff we ‘pride’ ourselves in supporting a group that then supports the gay community and other charities including Eddystone Trust and Rowcroft. Most recently we took over Soho Bar and Lounge, which is catering to a mixed community of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and straight people. We felt that the need for a sole Gay Bar in Torquay was obsolete even though homophobia still exists; straights and gays mix much more freely in bars and clubs.

I felt the best way to deal with this head on was to create a bar in the center of town which was not only unique in its style, premium quality drinks and ambience but one which did not hide from the fact that we had to be just gay but where people could mix in a safe trouble free environment. Our door person is gay, three of our bar staff are gay and we employ straights too. We are doing everything possible to make mixing a regular occurrence and increase the visibility of the bays gay community. How are we going to be excepted if we are hidden away, we are as normal as anyone else, so lets make ourselves be seen and heard and show that we are just like them…. Human!
Today it has come to the attention of English Rivera Pride that another Pride Group has just been set up and is advertising on Facebook as Bay Pride. This seems to be advertising our friends at the Meadfoot Inn and seems to be in complete competition to the English Rivera Pride which is set up and has been running for many years, raising money for charity and working alongside the Rainbow Ball Committee at some points with dual board members. Why? Why duplicate? Why not support the committee?

Why can’t our gay community of businesses work together and not against each other? Why can’t we all sit together and increase the events and charitable works? If it can be done in London, Manchester and other cities, what is wrong with our Riviera? It absolutely astounds me why businesses and groups can not work together in our bay (not just in this instance but others too).
So, my support shall remain with the Official English Riviera Pride and the Rainbow Ball Committee which has raised over £100,000. Not groups set up to forward one business or with an ulterior motive.

I challenge our Gay Businesses to come together, talk to each other and work together for the better of the bay and the better of the community we serve. I can be contacted below and as the previous Chairman of the Over the Rainbow Ball Committee and sure they, Riviera Pride, others and myself are at the table already waiting to talk.So stop duplicating and lets make a difference. Why when English Rivera Pride are trying to raise money does a business serving the gay community decide to put on a rival event which is just serving their own pocket? Why is there so much backstabbing and bad feeling? We are a community which should work together!

Will Ford

Greenway Ferry & Pleasure Cruises

SOHO Bar and Lounge”

Later:
The Facebook pages for the alternative Pride organisation for Torbay were removed shortly after the people that set them up saw the open letter which I reproduced above.
More condemnation for these shady practices were being forthrightly stated on various individuals Facebook pages all of today.  More will no doubt come of this over the coming months and I will post updates about what is happening here for all the world to see.

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