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More dialogue needed on Pride Harbour Nights event

Chelsea Crockwell selling her Faithful Fragrance candles at Harbour Nights (Photograph supplied)

August 23 marked the penultimate Harbour Nights of the year and it could be considered the most controversial one. Throughout the Harbour Nights season, each week’s edition is sponsored by a different organisation or group. For example, Kids’ Night was sponsored by One Communications.

The sponsor chooses how it contributes to the theme and experience of its selected night. Some sponsors hand out merchandise that reflects their the theme or their organisation.

Wednesday’s event was sponsored by OutBermuda with the theme Pride. Vendors are encouraged to dress their booth with the theme of the night, but it is not mandatory.

Vendors were informed of all the themes ahead of the season. That night, some chose to participate, while others withdrew. Social-media forwards circulated, encouraging the community to boycott the event, and the crowds were smaller than they normally are.

I recount Wednesday’s event not only as the Religion Correspondent but also as a participating vendor. Almost four years ago, I launched Faithful Fragrance, and was interviewed by Juanae Crockwell on this very platform for my faith-based candle line. This year makes my third year vending at the locally iconic event.

Also, it is the first that I have experienced with the theme Pride. Like many others who knew about the theme and sponsorship ahead of the event, as the night drew closer, I found myself having multiple honest conversations with God about whether or not I should participate in an event that does not share my personal values or convictions on the subject.

I was pondering what my participation, or lack thereof, would communicate about my faith, myself or my product. The overwhelming conviction I had was to attend the event, but not to participate in the theme with my decor. This was authentic for me.

My candles are meant to be a non-invasive way of spreading the light and love of Jesus. Whatever the Holy Spirit does after that is out of my control. I want to create products that are God-centred and lead people to Christ.

This remains my stance while respecting the stance others took to come or not, to vend or not, and to participate or not.

“If anyone’s will is to do God’s will. He will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” (John 7:17)

What stands out to me from this verse is the principle of free will. The verse stating “if anyone’s will is to do …” highlights the reality that God has given his creations the power of choice. With this power comes responsibility, as well as natural and spiritual cause and effect.

Just as adults have the right to put on events such as Pride, others have the right to choose not to attend and even oppose.

My observations of the back-and-forth between supporters and opponents of the event centred on the accepted premise that Harbour Nights are not only for adults, but heavily marketed for children’s attendance and participation. As a community, are there blurred boundaries on what is acceptable as a family-friendly event?

There are two questions I would like to pose the community. Harbour Nights is traditionally viewed as a family-friendly event where children are expected to be present.

Is it appropriate to host events that feature adult themes, with adult entertainment such as Wednesday evening’s event? There was a live drag make-up demonstration and the high-heel race.

Also, is there a difference between a family with children choosing to attend a Pride parade versus approving themes of an adult nature on community events that are designed to cater to the families of Bermuda?

I pray the community is able to have respectful and meaningful dialogue on this topic.

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Published August 26, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated August 28, 2023 at 8:13 am)

More dialogue needed on Pride Harbour Nights event

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