Can Gays Own the Word Pride?

Pride. It’s only a word.

This week a lawsuit was launched against an event organiser in New York by Heritage of Pride – the organisers of many of NYCs Pride events – over the words “NYC Pride.” Matinee NYC and Voss NYC found themselves handed an injunction which prevents them from using NYC Pride in their promotional material.

Heritage Pride believes that it has exclusive rights to the word, and it would seem that Judge Colleen McMahon of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York also believes this.

In their statement, Heritage of Pride said

The fact remains that Matinee was blatantly misrepresenting their relationship with the organization and brand ‘NYC Pride,’ which we have built over many years. NYC Pride is a non-profit organization that’s entire mission is to empower, enlighten, engage, and help to commemorate how far the LGBT community has come. Matinee’s claim that we are trying to own ‘Pride’ is false, and a distraction from their unlawful, misleading conduct. Anyone who reads the court’s opinion will immediately see what is really going on in this case.

Matinee, who are understandably annoyed by this released their own statement:

It is absurd that any organization should own the word Pride used next to the name of our city. Especially one that is using this as a tactic to funnel revenue to itself by demanding fees for the right to call themselves ‘official’ events.

The facts are that while Heritage of Pride touts itself as a non-profit and charitable organization, it has publicly admitted that it gives only 10% of net income to charity. Per public court filings, that amounted to only a few thousand dollars in 2012.

The injection however raises more concerning questions. For example, can one person or group claim soul rights to one word?

The word Pride has of course been associated wight the LGBT Community for over three decades, stemming from early Gay Pride Parades. However, it seems plainly absurd that the entire community can have exclusive entitlement to the word pride.

Pride is a fairly common word, and has simply connotations that a person has a high opinion of their own dignity. It is an obvious choice for the LGBT Community to latch on to. Pride represents that Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people have dignity in themselves and feel that they are a good people.

And that is of course a good thing. That we love ourselves and believe to be as good as anyone else is a beautiful thing and can only help in the eternal battle for equality. But taking action against others for using the word pride is shameful, embarrassing and down right childish.

While it is understandable that Heritage NYC believes it had the right to NYC Pride, over the fact that they have built the brand over many years, going to such lengths is a step-backward for our community. This community has only recently began to push forward, and actions like this are a step backwards.

The problem lies in the fact that by taking such drastic actions over the word pride leads to a sense of alienation for all of us in the community. It portrays us as villains, vying to hold on to something we have no true entitlement over.

A more appropriate action, in this writers personal opinion would be to reach out a helpful hand, and use Matinee’s NYC Pride advertising as a way to include LGBT people. It is true that the word has strong connotations in the community, so why not use that to an advantage.

By using Matinee’s use of Pride as a tool to promote their events to the LGBT Community it creates a sense of inclusion and belonging and would help break down barriers and homophobia.

Actions speak louder than words. This sort of action, while may seem justified, only damages a community only recovering from the wounds of the past. More enemies are the last thing a community which has so many already. We should be promoting ourselves as a group that only love, and bear no hate.

We shouldn’t be attacking people, who more than likely have deep and utter respect for us. We don’t own the word pride, no one should. But we sure as hell could use it to our advantage!

NYC Pride takes place until the end of June. NYC Pride Parade kicks off June 28th

For more follow on Twitter and Tumblr.

Irish x


One comment

  1. Rocky · June 22, 2014

    I do feel like NYC Pride IS a brand though :/ But at the same time, it doesn’t “have” to be exclusive… idk


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