Vancouver Pride Society's executive director Ray Lam resigns after controversies

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      After a season of controversy, the Vancouver Pride Society's executive director Ray Lam has stepped down.

      Lam worked with the non-profit organization for over a decade, first as a volunteer, then as a director. He became the VPS general manager in 2012 and served as executive director in 2015.

      In an October newsletter, the VPS announced Lam's departure and credited him with revamping the Official Pride Guide and implementing new initiatives such as the open-street model for the Davie Street Party and the creation of the Pride Legacy Awards.

      In the newsletter, VPS president Tim Richards stated: "After yet another successful Pride season, the Board of Directors for the Vancouver Pride Society has decided to initiate a leadership transition as we move into 2016."

      In the months prior to Lam's departure, a number of other individuals also left the VPS. 

      VPS board member Tim Ell resigned on July 25 after controversy about a new requirement for Pride parade participants to sign a pledge supporting trans rights. The B.C. Liberal party and the Conservative party did not sign the pledge and therefore did not participate in the parade. (The B.C. Liberal party did participate in the Pride Festival at Sunset Beach, as participation in the festival was not contingent on signing the pledge.)

      Ell resigned due to concerns about Lam's conduct regarding the pledge.

      Meanwhile, parade director Bry Leckie's employment with the VPS ended a week before the parade on August 2.

      Cynthia Williams also left her position as the VPS communications coordinator this summer.

      Neither Leckie nor Williams responded to the Georgia Straight's request for an interview by the time of this posting.

      In addition, Melody Johnson says she was fired on July 3 from her position as volunteer coordinator. Johnson told the Georgia Straight by phone that she was never informed what the reason was for her firing.

      She said that on May 23, she was physically attacked and sexually assaulted by two men in a West End alleyway. Her partner filed a police report on her behalf.

      After returning to work two days later bearing injuries including a black eye, she said that she talked to Lam about the incident. 

      According to Johnson, she received a letter of termination from Lam, delivered by Richards, on July 3.

      She had previously volunteered for the organization for two years before being hired as a volunteer and office coordinator for eight months.

      Johnson said that she had received a warning about her job performance at the beginning of her employment, regarding her lack of office administrative skills. She said she didn't receive any training for her position and that her job responsibilities were not clearly outlined for her.

      She has filed a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal case, and received a confirmation letter on November 2.

      The VPS did not make anyone available for an interview with the Georgia Straight but sent a news release instead.

      The release stated that they did conduct an investigation by a third party: "We take the allegations from this former employee very seriously. While we obviously cannot share details of human resources decisions for privacy reasons, we can say this: upon learning of the former staff member’s complaint, we immediately launched an investigation led by an independent third party. The investigator concluded that the allegations were without merit, and that Vancouver Pride Society has acted in good faith."

      The VPS also stated they learned about the human rights case through the media.

      Johnson wanted to clarify why she is launching the human rights case.

      "The main thing that I want is for them to develop and implement an employee policy that not only acknowledges but also helps support and accommodate employees who have mental health issues," she said.

      Johnson said she had experienced a previous sexual assault, and has been experiencing anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder since the May attack.

      Meanwhile, the VPS is seeking to hire a new executive director. A job posting for the position went up on the VPS website in October.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at You can also follow the Straight's LGBT coverage on Twitter at