N.C. Pride @ Night welcomes Jewish LGBTQ community

Festival pushed to 4 p.m., parade canceled

DURHAM, N.C. — Controversy arose when N.C. Pride scheduled its annual Pride Parade on Yom Kippur, a major Jewish holiday requiring 24 hours of fasting. Jewish LGBTQ people and allies felt excluded; but N.C. Pride announced Friday that it had found a compromise.

Instead of a daytime festival and parade, organizers have rebranded this year’s gathering as “N.C. Pride @ Night.” Beginning at 4 p.m. on Sept. 30, the event will celebrate well into the night — concluding at 4 a.m. on Oct. 1. The N.C. Pride Parade has been canceled for this year, and will return in 2018.

“We think this is the best under the circumstances,” said N.C. Pride Executive Director John Short.

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The two locations of N.C. Pride, Durham and Raleigh, will both observe the new schedule. Raleigh’s community will gather on Harrington St. In Durham, Rigsbee Ave. hosts the night festival, with the street closed from Corporation St. to Geer St.

Last year’s N.C. Pride drew thousands of attendees from across the state, many bearing colorful signs protesting House Bill 2. For the 2017 festival, some in the crowd will likely protest HB2’s descendant, HB 142.

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Although Jewish LGBTQ people and allies who had spoken out against the scheduling are mollified by the gesture, the nighttime festival doesn’t solve all issues associated with the calendar date. Yom Kippur fasting does end at sundown — about 7 p.m. according to timeanddate.com — but after 24 hours without sustenance, will Jewish community members truly be able to participate?

Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill CEO Jill Madsen was grateful for N.C. Pride’s compromise, but her organization still plans to hold an alternate event on Oct. 7 for the Jewish community to celebrate LGBTQ pride. The federation’s gathering falls on another Jewish holiday, but a more compatible one.

“We appreciate them considering other options,” Madsen told The Herald-Sun. “[Our event] falls during the holiday of Sukkot, which is our fall harvest holiday, and one of the practices of Sukkot is inviting someone into your home for a meal. So we thought, what a wonderful opportunity to open up our building and show our support.”

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