June 13, 2020
Dear LGBTQ+ Community of New Orleans,
As former board members of Pride New Orleans, we would like to publicly apologize for the Facebook post made on June 6th. We fully endorse Black Lives Matter and we know that Pride is political. Many of us posted on our personal and business social media pages sharing our outrage regarding social injustice and police brutality in full support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Pride New Orleans should have as well. We also recognize that posts aren’t enough. Many of us have been individually active within the community and marching in the streets with our brothers and sisters of color. Sadly, the organization we were involved with was not.
Chris Leonard, former Executive President of New Orleans Pride, published the Facebook post without consent from the Board, asking the community how they were celebrating Pride at home this year but stating, in the last sentence, “absolutely no politics allowed.’ After a considerable backlash from the community, Leonard took the post down as well as the Pride New Orleans Facebook page. Later, it was reactivated.
On Sunday, June 7th, a Board meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, June 9th. The meeting was called to discuss Leonard’s actions, how we wanted to respond to the community, and how the Board would like to move forward in a different direction–highlighting the need for diversity; advocating for activism; ensuring we were all aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement; and that, moving forward, we would be political, within the rules of being a 501(c)(3).
On Tuesday, June 9th, Leonard publicly resigned via his personal Facebook page, after sharing with potential performers for Pride and other third parties involved with the organization, again without consulting or communicating with the Board. Leonard did not attend the Board meeting later that evening to answer for his actions. The current Board asked for full transparency of the organization’s bank records and to dissolve the Executive Board. We asked for Leonard to be removed from all social media. We also asked Louisiana’s Secretary of State to remove him as Pride New Orleans’ Executive President of the Board.
Because of the incidents above, the undersigned Board Members have decided to resign and have asked for the current Executive Board to dissolve. We look forward to seeing a new, diverse, and transparent organization in the future, totally separate from the Executive Board under which we had served. We hope that the LGBTQ+ community can unify and come back together in the future, stronger than ever, to celebrate all of our unique qualities.
We are asking that any remaining funds be donated to The New Orleans Workers’ Center For Racial Justice, GLSEN and The Trevor Project.
Michael Musa, Ryan Tardino, Sarah Manowitz, Tracey Deroche and Andrea Halstead