By Patrick Vaillancourt, Contributor
Vancouver Pride Society officials are coming under fire from pro-foreskin advocates because of a decision to exclude the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project (aka Foreskin Pride) from this year’s Vancouver Pride Parade.
Glen Callender, founder of the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project and Foreskin Pride, says the exclusion was politically-motivated.
Foreskin Pride has been featured in parades across Canada and was permitted to march in the Vancouver Pride parade in 2012, which featured Callender walking the streets pantless.
Callender was initially notified by phone that Foreskin Pride’s application was rejected due to “space constraints,” but a written explanation of the group’s rejection from the 2013 parade states that the rejection was due to violations of the VPS rules and regulations with respect to marching nude.
Ray Lam, the manager of Vancouver Pride Society, maintains that Foreskin Pride has been excluded because of space but admits that Callender’s nude march in last year’s parade played a role in the decision. Callender argues that his plans to march simply with a black “I Love My Foreskin” T-shirt in last year’s parade were cleared with the parade director.
In an interview with Xtra!, Lam said that VPS is simply following the law in excluding those who would march nude. The Canadian Criminal Code prohibits people from being nude in public, with the exception of nude beaches.
The City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department have both said that they are unaware of complaints being filed due to nudity in past Pride parades. A spokesperson for Vancouver City Hall, Vivianna Zonocco, said that the police would not likely intervene in cases of nudity at the Vancouver Pride parade.
“I think the Vancouver Police Department are pretty cool when it comes to stuff like that,” said Zonocco, referring to nudity in the parade.
Callender, in a statement on his Facebook page, said that nudity should remain a “proud tradition at Pride events.” “Pride should always be about challenging sexual respression and opening up respectability rather than clamping down on it,” Callender said. “If the city and the police are willing to tolerate harmless public nudity at Pride out of respect for our community, why in the world should Van Pride step solidly to the right of the city and the police and get their knickers in a knot of nudity?”
Former VPS president John Boychuk seemed skeptical about the VPS rationale for excluding Foreskin Pride, saying in a telephone interview with The Other Press that while there are well-over 100 applications each year, it was uncommon for the group to reject anyone.
“We never turned anybody down,” said Boychuk, who added that VPS would routinely make room for all applicants to participate in the parade.
Foreskin Pride protested on the steps of Vancouver City Hall on July 29th, the day the city officially proclaimed Pride Awareness Week. They have nicknamed this year’s principal Pride festivities as the “Prude Parade.”