Saturday, May 21, 2022

Watch Your Words . . .

At last Tuesday's Common Council meeting, the Council voted on a resolution declaring the month of June LGBTQ+ Pride Month in Hudson. It's a tradition. The Council has been passing such resolutions since at least 2010. This year, Councilmember Malachi Walker (Fourth Ward) felt compelled to make a statement before casting his vote, as he did in 2020 when he prefaced his vote by saying, "Morally I may not participate in it, but I don't want to offend anyone." This year, Walker's statement had to do with being offended. Below is Walker's statement as it was transcribed by Ọṣun Zotique and posted on Facebook yesterday. (Zotique is the executive director of OutHudson and is organizing this year's parade.)  
I feel that everybody should be able to express themselves and have fun. Everybody in the community just you know be mindful of you know just be respectful and I'm speaking just you know in the past you know certain indecencies you know with the parade if we could just be respectful and this is our community everybody is entitled to express themselves, but just keep that in mind. --Malachi Walker
You can hear Walker's statement for yourself here. It begins at 7:20.

Walker's statement prompted an open letter from John Schobel, president and a founder of OutHudson, which also appeared on Facebook. The text of that letter follows:
I have led OutHudson, the organization that puts on the OutHudson Pride Weekend, for seven years now. During that time, we have created a magnificent event that brings many thousancs of visitors a year and promotes Hudson as a welcoming bastion of diversity and tolerance.
We appreciate your "YES" vote on the resolution codifying June as Pride Month, but had some concern about your comments made at the May 17th Common Council Meeting that "there have been certain indecencies in the parade."
I have attended the entirety of every Hudson Pride Parade and witnessed every float and group. Indecency isn't anyone's opinion of what they think is proper; it has a legal definition in New York State. You are a public official and should be aware that there is none in our parade. Queer parades have a long history of creativity and freedom of expression dating back half a century. Hudson's is no different. We embrace it.
Hudson is a diverse and beautiful town and exemplifies so much that is good in our society. The OutHudson Pride Weekend is a huge source of pride for me and my fellow organizers, and I hope for our residents--whether here for five minutes or fifty years. Labeling the event or even an individual participating in that tradition of freedom of expression as "indecent" harkens back to earlier eras where our lives were invalidated. A time that the Hudson of today clearly stands against and exemplifies--through every type of inclusion and a definitive embrace of Queerness in every way--the best our society can be. . . .
Walker has defended his statement at the Council meeting in comments on Facebook--addressed to Zotique and to Schobel:
Meant no disrepect at all, just in the past parade there were some attire that exposed some body parts that some residents didn't feel was suitable for the occasion.
You can see that I was very hesitant, fumbling my words at times to even address it because I try not to offend anyone and would never intentionally do so, ever. I love my city with a passion and everyone in it. Indecent attire were words that were given to me by a parent who was concerned about certain revealing body parts while they attended the last parade. I was asked to address it, I brought it up in the meeting not to bully, humilitate [sic], or criticize but to share a concern from a few residents who resides in Hudson, with all due respect.
Photo: OutHudson | Instagram


  1. You had to put in a [sic]? You couldn't silently correct?
    Dorothy Heyl

  2. I’d like to first say that while I don’t know Walker well, I’ve consistently heard that he’s personally a decent man, testimonials to which effect I will take at face value. Everyone comes to their positions differently, and the LGBTQ community doesn’t (or shouldn’t) require radical acceptance from every community member to validate itself. Mr. Walker is a private citizen and welcome to hold whatever views he wishes.

    I have lived in San Francisco and New York City where year after year parents would line the streets with their kids to watch what was by several orders of magnitude a more risqué display than what goes tumbling down Warren Street in June. I worked on the Pride Parade Committee here for years; it’s so family-friendly and low-key here they might as well have redone the entire Pride flag in shades of beige.

    Having said that, as a public official representing a community with a high LGBTQ population, Walker should understand that Pride isn’t about getting permission from somebody else to be who you are. So many members of our community are estranged from family, often ostracized or belittled, and even when accepted, told in so many ways that, on some level, we should be ashamed of who we are. Pride is accepting yourself, and it’s an opportunity for the community to show that same acceptance. Mr. Walker’s position, while his own to hold, is out of line with the Hudson community I know, and certainly shows once again that we may have more seats than qualified candidates on the Common Council.

    And how unfortunate that a member of the Hudson Democratic Committee, rather than taking the opportunity with her comment to work on making Hudson a more accepting and inclusive place, chose instead to troll Gossips for reporting the story accurately. Shameful priorities, though I suppose telling ones.