UPDATE 28th July 2023:
After Sligo Pride Committee 2023's recent (2nd) statement, containing allegations that are untrue, we, Davina (known as Dee) and Charlotte (known as Charley) Utting, trading as Tully Crafts are seeking legal advice before making any further statements on this matter.
It has been demanded by the Sligo Pride committee of 2023, that we make a public statement about the ongoing issues between themselves and ourselves.
We, Tully Crafts, haven't made a public comment on this situation up to this point, to try to avoid further conflict within the LGBTQUIA+ community, and to preserve anonymity for the other parties involved.
In June of this year we inquired as to whether Sligo Pride wanted us to bring the Tully Truck (our portable shop) to their events this year. We at the time, thought this a formality as we had worked so closely with Sligo Pride in the past. We instead received a rejection after an executive committee vote. We assumed (wrongly) this was due to them deciding not to have vendors at their events this year. A little while later we saw a public post stating they were indeed having "local vendors" at their events, and it was only then we realised we had been singled out. I (Charley) then reached out unofficially to Doug (Sligo Pride's chair & my friend) on 11th July to try to find out what was going on and how it could be resolved. He then met with me on the 12th of July, at this unofficial meeting it became apparent that it was due to something my ex partner and now committee member had said, although what exactly was said wasn't covered. I was told there was nothing that could be done to solve the problem this year, but if I managed to "sort things'' with my ex partner before next year, then Tully Crafts would again be welcome at Sligo Pride. I must admit this did confuse me, as said ex and I had had a lengthy conversation at Sligo Pride's ball last year ending with a hug, so I thought we had "sorted things".
I (Charley) will point out this is an ex from a relationship that ended around 8 years ago, who I worked with during the latter half of my time on the Sligo Pride committee (September 2019 - September 2021). Also despite all that has transpired I am still trying to give my ex their anonymity, despite many members of the community knowing who they are (so in this statement I am using neutral they/them pronouns, so as to further reduce the chances of identifying them).
As I warned Doug at that informal meeting, members of the wider LGBTQUIA+ community were not happy that Ireland's first permanent LGBTQ+ shop, a shop that had opened right here in Sligo, were being excluded from the Sligo's Pride celebrations. At this point some members of the LGBTQUIA+ community, not Tully Crafts, started a petition to try to get Sligo Pride to allow us to trade at their events.
We received an email from Sligo Pride on 17th of July, saying a second vote had happened amongst the Sligo Pride Executive Committee and they stood by their original decision. That email had a proposed statement attached that was libellous, containing accusations, that had it been released, would have been defamation of character. That attached statement was the first time we realised just how serious the allegations against us were. Due to this we informed Sligo Pride that this statement was untrue and libellous, and would be defamation of character and so our email communication chain with them began. During this communication we then explicitly asked them who our accuser was, which of us they were accusing (just one of us or both of us), and what exactly they were accusing us of, as we hadn't been told these things up to this point. We were given the confirmation that our accuser was my ex, that they were accusing both of us and the nature of these serious allegations.
On the 18th of July I requested a second informal meeting with Doug (The Chair), this time both myself and Dee were present. He then asked us exactly what had happened with my ex from our perspective. This was the first time any member of the Sligo Pride committee had done so. We answered to the best of our ability, given the amount of time that had passed and the sensitive nature of topics it brought up. All further communication with Sligo Pride then took place via the email chain.
Harper and Pippa as representatives of the LGBTQUIA+ community announced on the 18th of July that they had organised a public meeting to take place on 21st of July over Zoom. This meeting came up in our communication with Sligo Pride and by the 20th of July Sligo Pride had requested we ask Harper and Pippa to postpone this meeting to allow our communication to continue, and we obliged as did Harper and Pippa.
During the email chain, we repeatedly told Sligo Pride that the accusations were untrue. A meeting between myself, Dee, my ex and another representative of Sligo Pride was suggested, we provisionally agreed to this providing that an impartial party was present (for everyone's sake). This meeting has still not transpired, although Sligo Pride said they were trying to find a party “not involved”, and communication continued. We questioned why the accusations of one individual was affecting the decision making process of the whole committee, we questioned why Sligo Pride hadn't asked to hear our account of events before making their decision. We pointed out that while we had now given them information regarding our personal lives from many years ago, we couldn't see what bearing this had on Sligo Pride's and Tully Craft's relationship, as we are a business and they are a community group, and this was a personnel issue between my ex partner and myself and my mother.
On the 25th of July Sligo Pride put out a statement regarding all of this, unfortunately that statement seemed to cause more confusion than clarity. It caused more conflict in the LGBTQUIA+ community, who found it lacking in the very information they had requested. In our communication with Sligo Pride, we pointed out to them that excluding our names, both personal and business, did not save them from the implication, as those that wanted answers already knew it was in reference to us. We again asked them if we were still excluded from the Sligo Pride 2023 events (as they had named the very email chain we were communicating via) and if so why? We were told we would no longer be excluded if we met the following conditions:
- A public note acknowledging the actions that have occurred in the past and a lack of action taken to resolve it, as well as a commitment for that to not happen again.
- Vendor Insurance Certificate obtained.
- Sales licence for the mobile unit obtained.
2&3 are not an issue, as we are professional. The issue is with 1, this is in reference to those allegations mentioned earlier. This is not possible without us admitting to doing something we did not do. We then received further communication from them, before we had a chance to respond to the first message, demanding we make a public statement, again admitting to things that did not happen.
Hopefully this now brings everyone up to date on the timeline of events as they stand.
If you are reading this, you are probably are still frustrated that we haven't mentioned the exact nature of the allegations against us, that is because it would be impossible for us to comment on them without sacrificing my ex partners anonymity, it would also be impossible for us to be more specific without implicating the actions of the Sligo Pride's Executive Committee 2023. We have told them repeatedly that if they make those accusations public we would be forced into legal action for defamation of character as it would be libellous, because they are untrue. Despite all of this, the last thing we want is for the LGBTQUIA+ community here in Sligo to be put through yet more personnel drama to the detriment of the wider community. Through all of this, we have done our best to protect the LGBTQUIA+ community, protect Sligo Pride from consequence for their rash decisions and actions and, yes, still protect my ex partner's anonymity despite their accusations towards us.
As both of us are members of LGBTQUIA+ community, we know far too well just how much it matters, we know it is far too important to let personal issues get in the way. Not that we should need to justify ourselves here, but just for some context: I (Charley) am out as being Bi/Pansexual, Greyromantic, my pronouns are They/She and I regularly joke with friends that I am gender confused, I am also Neurodivergent (including dyslexia, so apologies if there are spelling errors or typos in this that I missed), and I am mixed race, as well as a few other minority groups I've probably forgotten, because you tend to forget something when you are the walking embodiment of intersectionality. I first got actively involved with the LGBTQUIA+ community during the marriage equality referendum (although I'd been out as Bi for many years before that). Since the vote, at various points, I have held positions at Sligo Pride, OutWest, Full Spectrum Ireland, Unite Against Racism Sligo and founded Leitrim Pride.
(The following is put with Dee's explicit consent)
TW/CW: Mention of death and what causes it, as well as description of graphic violent acts:
Dee is Gender Non-Conforming, she uses She/Her pronouns, she is also neurodivergent, she has been active in the LGBTQUIA+ community since the 1970s, she took part in Gay Liberation Marches in London, being tear gassed and having bricks thrown at her. She has acted as a safe house to countless members of the community down the years, some of whom were in danger of being murdered and then their body mutilated for being trans, Dee was who they turned to, who they trusted. She had been to 19 funerals for LGBTQUIA+ friends by the time she was 30, mostly due to AIDS but some due to murder or suicide. She (& my Dad) is the reason I felt safe coming out, she is the reason I felt strong enough to stand up for this community, because I knew I was lucky enough to have that safety net, unfortunately supportive parents who love us no matter what are rare in this community, so I appreciate just how lucky I am.
So please believe us when we say, we both put the wellbeing of the LGBTQUIA+ community before ourselves (or our business) and that is why we had chosen to not comment publicly on this issue up to this point, to try to minimise the harm this dispute would cause to the wider LGBTQUIA+ community. When people have asked us if we will be attending Sligo Pride we have told them "it is in flux", when people have asked us specifically about this situation we have told them "communication is ongoing", we have tried to deescalate this situation at every chance. The only people we have discussed more details with (and even then to a limited amount) are our very close friends who already knew the details. We're so sorry we were unable to prevent this escalating to this point, we really did try to avoid this.
Charley Utting (They/She) & Dee Utting (She/Her)