An LGBT+ charity says it is disappointed that it was not allowed to take part in the Burnham-On-Sea Carnival over ‘concerns’ with its entry name.
North Somerset LGBT+ Forum applied to enter a cart named ‘Fifty Shades of Gay (a celebration of Pride)’ in Monday’s Burnham-On-Sea Carnival.
The Highbridge & Burnham Carnival Committee said the group was not banned, but the entry would have breached carnival rules by featuring ‘excessive advertising’ as it had been entered into a non-commercial category of ‘Class 7 – Groups of Masqueraders.’
A letter from the Carnival Committee sent to the group outlined the position, and also included concerns about the entry’s name.
Phil New, Burnham Carnival Chairman, says: “There was absolutely no homophobia behind this at all. This was a case of the carnival’s rules being potentially broken with excessive advertising in a non-commercial Carnival category. We are an all-inclusive event.”
”Now that Burnham’s carnival is over for the year, our small committee will have the chance to meet this week to discuss our response in detail.”
The North Somerset LGBT+ forum displayed its cart at Bridgwater Carnival on Saturday 5th November and it has also been given permission to use it in upcoming carnivals in Weston and Glastonbury.
Paul Stoodley, a spokesman for North Somerset LGBT+ Forum, says: “Let’s just hope it’s a case of minor homophobia and nothing too sinister. Hopefully this can be resolved. We just want everyone to be happy and everyone to be included.”
“There was a lot of discussion backwards and forwards. Eventually there was a letter that said the committee had made the decision not to allow the charity to enter.”
“They said they had concerns how the public would react to the entry name. I drove it around Bridgwater and the feedback was amazing. We were getting cheers and we were so proud to be the first openly gay entry, as far as we are aware, on the carnival circuit.”
Mr Stoodley said they were told their entry was in breach of several rules and they had been offered the chance to adjust its entry name from Fifty Shades of Gay but had declined the offer as they did not believe the words to be offensive.
In a statement, The North Somerset LGBT+ Forum added: “We decided to enter the iconic Somerset Carnivals this year, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the first Pride event in the UK. In September, the Forum entered three local Carnivals in Somerset; Bridgwater, Burnham & Highbridge, and Weston-super-Mare, with the entry title of “50 Shades of
Gay (a Celebration of Pride).”
“In early October we received a letter from BOS Carnival Committee stating that we would not be accepted, as the title was deemed inappropriate for a family audience, and they were concerned how their audience would react. They also felt we had broken several County Carnival rules related to self-promotion and sponsorship.”
“After liaising with the county secretary and both Bridgwater and Weston Carnival, they had assured us that no rules had been broken. Burnham later backtracked and invited us to enter as a trade entry, or to enter as a charity but to change our entry name.”
“They also offered us collection duties. We politely declined these offers, as we are a charity, not a trade company and we do not believe the words we chose for our title to be offensive, and therefore will not be changing them. The Forum was thrilled to be part of Bridgwater Carnival and looks forward to attending Weston-super-Mare’s parade on November 11th.”
“A special thanks to Glastonbury Carnival is also required, as they have invited us to attend their Carnival on November 19th and we are grateful to these Carnivals for welcoming us with open arms. We hope all involved with Burnham Carnival have a fabulous night and we look forward to seeing you soon.”
“The Forum was thrilled to be part of Bridgwater Carnival and looks forward to attending Weston-super-Mare’s parade on November 11th. A special thanks to Glastonbury Carnival is also required, as they have invited us to attend their Carnival on November 19th and we are grateful to these Carnivals for welcoming us with open arms.”