Seattle Pride just released its official statement on its role in “Airline Sponsorship Gate” and the resignation of its president Eric Bennett. They also announced they have already elected officers for the 2016/2017 term.
On Wednesday, May 18, 2016, during a special session of the Board of Directors of Seattle Pride, the Board accepted the resignation of its President, Eric Bennett. Board Vice President, Kevin Toovey, will serve in the interim as President of the Board for the remainder of the 2016 Pride season.
Mr. Bennett served Seattle Pride for six years, as a volunteer, then as Secretary, Parade Registrar, and most recently as President. Under Mr. Bennett’s leadership, the Seattle Pride Parade has grown to become the nation’s fourth-largest pride celebration with now over 500,000 attendees annually.
The Board of Seattle Pride accepts this resignation and thanks Mr. Bennett for his service and contributions over the years. Yesterday, Mr. Bennett apologized and took full responsibility for misinterpreting a sponsorship of this year’s Pride which resulted in the exclusion of another group from participating in the Parade. Mr. Bennett’s actions were not consistent with the direction or policies of the Board of Seattle Pride. The Board reiterates its commitment to including all who wish to march in the annual Seattle Pride Parade.
“On behalf of the Board of Seattle Pride, we accept and acknowledge the resignation of our President in the hope that this demonstrates our unwavering commitment to a fully inclusive and welcoming Seattle Pride,” said Kevin Toovey, interim President. “We are working now to engage our diverse community in a dialogue to address any confusion or concerns around the generosity of our sponsors. Our sponsors allow us to produce the annual Seattle Pride Parade so that it can support the participation of all who wish to march and the attendance of all who wish to celebrate the great diversity of our region.”
“We wish to apologize to our sponsor, Delta Air Lines, who had not asked for nor intended to exclude any groups from participating in the Parade or wearing the logos that they wish,” added David Hale, Sponsorship Director. “The Pride Board continues our long-standing policy of not accepting any sponsorship that would limit the full participation in the Parade of all in our community.”
Today, the Board of Seattle Pride also issued a written apology to the members of GLOBE, the LGBT employee affinity group of Alaska Airlines, to renew our invitation for them to join the Seattle Pride Parade again this year, and to confirm that they may wear whatever they choose. GLOBE has since contacted the Board of Seattle Pride to affirm that they will march in this year’s parade.
As customary at its May meeting earlier this month, the Board of Seattle Pride elected its new leaders to take office August 1, 2016: Kevin Toovey is President-elect, David Hale is Vice President-elect, Christine Lyon continues as Treasurer, and Alex Nugent continues as Secretary. The next public meeting of Seattle Pride will be on Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at 6PM at a location to be determined. Meeting information may be found on seattlepride.org and on the organization’s social media pages.
OK, that last paragraph illustrates one of the big problems with Seattle Pride…a complete lack of communication with the community that it’s supposed to be serving. Why are they just now announcing this election? Why doesn’t Seattle Pride hold community wide meetings to encourage the community to more fully participate in Seattle Pride? Why isn’t their webpage up to date with information on the board and its officers and when/where the Board meets? Why the constant secrecy and wall building with Seattle’s LGBTQ community? Why hasn’t Seattle Pride ever sent us the financial statements we requested for last year’s Pride? By law, as a non-profit, they must disclose their financial standing, yet it’s been a struggle for the media to obtain actual current information from Seattle Pride.
Here’s the thing Seattle…we ALL need to go to that next public meeting on Wednesday, June 1st. We need to demand some answers. Seattle Pride…you need to find a venue large enough to accommodate us all.
We have some questions to ask. We think it’s time for some transparency on your part.