Georgia Straight won't be at the Pride parade

We thought we were in, then we were out, then we were in, and then we were out, and finally, we were invited back into the Pride parade.

It's enough to make your head spin.

Today, the Georgia Straight decided that it won't participate in the Vancouver Pride Parade for the first time in years.

This came after the Vancouver Pride Society's treasurer and parade director, Ken Coolen, issued an ultimatum to the Straight promotions manager that the publisher, Dan McLeod, had two hours to call and explain this week's cover story.

If the publisher didn't call, Coolen said, the Straight would not be allowed in the parade. McLeod did not return Coolen's call.

The cover story, Pride Incorporated, examined whether or not the Vancouver Pride Society had become too reliant on corporate sponsorships to pay for the annual parade.

There are six other Pride-related stories in this issue that highlight the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community in a positive fashion, in the sections for arts, news, movies, real estate, and travel. In a twist, the Straight also chose to highlight heterosexual people in fetish wear to offset media stereotypes that only gay men dress up this way.

This was the second time that Coolen had let the Straight promotions department know that the Straight wouldn't be allowed in the parade.

The City imposed a cap on the number of participants in the parade earlier this year, and the Straight was told it had missed the deadline for applying. The Straight promotions department maintains that it never knew there was a deadline, and in the past there was never a problem participating in the parade.

VPS president John Boychuk later said that the Straight was put on a standby list, and earlier this week, the Straight was told it could be in the parade.

The Straight is not a corporate sponsor of the parade.

After Coolen issued his ultimatum about the cover story this morning, Boychuk called to smooth the waters. He graciously phoned the editor to extend an invitation to the Straight to be in the annual parade.

By that point, the marketing and promotions department already decided to pass on this year's parade because it had twice cancelled buying decorations and items to hand out at the event. As long as Coolen is the parade director, there's no guarantee that there won't be a third cancellation.

To view responses from the community about this issue, visit this entry on the Views Blog.