(JTA) — A coalition of North Carolina LGBTQ groups is calling on supporters to boycott the annual N.C. Pride parade — now a street fair — because it begins on Yom Kippur.
The groups, which call themselves the #LiberateNCPride Coalition, have set up an online petition for supporters to pledge to skip N.C. Pride and to explain their decision. The petition also calls on the gay community to support several other pride events in the area taking place in the next few weeks.
The N.C. Pride parade had been scheduled for Sept. 30, which this year is Yom Kippur. Following the announcement of the date in July, organizers apologized for scheduling the parade for Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, but said they could not change the date. They said the parade has been held on the last Saturday of September for the past 17 years and that major institutions in the area plan their schedules months in advance around the date.
N.C. Pride organizers announced last month that they had rebranded the event as N.C. Pride @ Night, a street fair that would start in downtown Durham and downtown Raleigh at 4 p.m. Sept. 30 and run until 4 a.m. Oct. 1. The Pride Parade was canceled for this year but is scheduled to return for 2018.
Several Jewish groups have marched in the parade in recent years.
“This decision to host a statewide Pride event on a date that conflicted with the observance of Yom Kippur disregards the needs and concerns of those who are both Jewish and LGBTQ and ultimately precludes participation of an already minoritized community,” the petition reads. “The decision to change the festival to start at 4PM on Yom Kippur was made without consultation from Jewish led organizations, longstanding community partners and festival participants, or community-based organizations who do the work to support LGBTQ+ communities across North Carolina. And despite the outcry of opposition from Jewish communities from across the state the date was unchanged.”
The petition also says that the change in the festival to a nighttime celebration that starts before the end of Yom Kippur “not only misses the mark in addressing the concerns of Jewish communities, but also changes the entire tone of the event.”
It lists nine other area LGBTQ events and urges supporters to attend them.
When the changed program was announced in August, Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill CEO Jill Madsen said her agency would still hold an alternative event planned for the Jewish community to celebrate LGBTQ pride set for Oct. 7, which falls during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot but is more manageable for the Jewish community. Madsen told the local media at the time that she was “grateful” for the compromise from N.C. Pride.
But in a statement released Wednesday by the coalition, Masden said: “We are disappointed with this year’s planning of NC Pride on Yom Kippur. What deepens these feelings is the lack of communication, outreach, or partnership from NC Pride, to work to find a solution and plan for years to come, despite our efforts to continue to connect with them.”