Our mission at Slingshot has always been to throw categorically safe and inclusive events. It’s been brought to our attention by our local trans community that there are improvements we can make, which we are wholeheartedly implementing now. We’re grateful that members of this community took the time to speak with us, detail experiences of racism and transphobia (things which we wholeheartedly condemn) in the past, and give us recommendations for ways to move ahead and continue this work on our own. Through these discussions, we have learned about things that we, as individuals and collectively outside of our professional roles, must address to heal with the larger community, and we are continuing that work now.
Our goal, as always, is to contribute to safety within our larger community and equity for under-represented and marginalized groups. This serious work will, of course, be ongoing after the festival.
The events of the past week have left several in our community with questions, and we will address these individually as well as list some immediate action items in the next 24 hours (posted: October 6, 2022).
Thank you for your support, trust, and patience as we do this important work.
Update – October 7, 2022
Thank you for your patience! There are things which we are able to speak to now and things which will naturally take a bit more time to address.
As some of you may know, there was an incident last week between our leadership and a trans woman, who is a member of the local Durham community. We understand more clearly now how we let this community down with our response, and we are deeply sorry.
On Friday, October 1, an Instagram story came to our attention. The video was shot after midnight in our parking lot when no one was at the office. It depicted an explosion with our office in the background. Unfortunately, we had to quickly try and discern the intentions of this video with no other context beyond a series of escalating encounters since May with this individual, which included vandalism and threats of a physical nature to our staff. We had also tried previously to reach out via various members of the community with hopes of addressing and de-escalating the situation, which went unanswered.
Our sole intention was to be able to quickly file a 50C (Civil Non-Contact) with this individual if deemed necessary for festival safety based on past encounters. We understand that we put a trans person at risk by reporting what we thought to be a legitimate safety concern, and we have taken the necessary actions to officially cancel this report with authorities after multiple conversations with the Durham community. We are sorry for any harm that this has caused. We notified the police of the situation but did not ask them to take any action and to our knowledge, they did not attempt go to the individual’s home on our behalf. To address further rumors and clarify, this individual is not a person of color but regardless, we understand the levity of the situation.
The action that we took was in response to a perceived safety threat, but we understand that even the possibility of putting anyone (especially a member of a marginalized community) at risk in this way is not in line with our goals. We categorically denounce any form or racism, transphobia, or violence of any kind — and we are working extremely hard to make sure that all of our actions and events that we produce reflect that.
For transparency, we are an extremely small team where everyone wears multiple hats, and we deeply apologize for taking so long to respond to inquiries about the incident publicly. We do not have a PR person, counsel on retainer, or anyone besides us trying to read, process, and respond to information while also producing a festival and working very hard to make sure that attendees, artists, and staff are all safe — in every meaning of that word.
We understand that this is just the beginning, but we are committed to ongoing active efforts to right this situation.
Please direct any inquiries to [email protected] We will respond as soon as we can.