Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pixabay
UPDATE - 28 January, 12.10pm: UK Black Pride has denied Pride in London's claim of a formal partnership between the two organisations this year.
A statement to Attitude from UK Black Pride reads: "We are definitely not collaborating with or in partnership with Pride in London. We'll announce our date and the location of our event in due course. If you'd like information about UK Black Pride, UK Black Pride is the best source for that information.
"[UK Black Pride Executive Director and Co-Founder] Lady Phyll has given her personal and private advice to Chris [Joell-Deshields, Executive Director for Pride in London] as he works to redress the entrenched issues within Pride in London, and at no time have UK Black Pride and Pride in London held talks about working together."
Pride in London will return following a three-year hiatus to mark its 50th anniversary on 2 July 2022.
In its initial announcement regarding the 2022 event, Pride in London claimed that it was partnering with UK Black Pride to "jointly celebrate the diversity of the LGBT+ community and the story of Pride, together."
That has since been denied by UK Black Pride, who said in a statement to Attitude that while informal advice had been offered to Pride in London, "at no time have UK Black Pride and Pride in London held talks about working together."
"The Pride movement continues to evolve"
Applications to be in the Pride in London parade open at 3pm GMT today (Friday 28 January). A festival will also kick-off celebrations in June (Pride month) with four weeks of community-produced events for which submissions are open on the PiL website. Pride’s Got Talent will return for its tenth year with applications opening on 1 February.
The Executive Director for Pride in London, Christopher Joell-Deshields, said: "We are excited for the return of Pride in London and the opportunity for the LGBT+ community to come together to celebrate our diversity, progress, and individuality.
"The Pride movement continues to evolve. Organisers across the UK and the world share a collective mission to elevate our community’s voice and raise awareness of the inequality and injustices locally, nationally, and globally."
According to PiL's research 62 percent of LGBTQ people believe Pride is important in the fight for their rights and in celebrating LGBTQ communities. The charity says its core values - Visibility, Unity, and Equality - demonstrate a commenting to "celebrating the resilience, strength, and diversity of LGBTQ people and organisations, in an inclusive and safe way."
"New leadership is needed"
Concerns over racism and diversity were raised publicly last year, when the then Director of Communications, Rhammel Afflick, resigned. He was one of Pride in London's most senior Black members.
He wrote in a personal blog post that Black voices had been consistently "ignored" by Pride in London and that "new leadership is needed".
He also said: "I’ve also personally witnessed the leadership’s insistence on ignoring Black voices in our communities and amongst our own volunteers when they speak up and speak out". PiL apologised to Afflick at the time. Afflick told Attitude last March that he'd filed a complaint the previous December but had no reply.
Afflick's resignation was followed by the resignation of the entire Community Advisory Board (CAB) the following day, citing similar concerns.
Five senior Pride in London directors then stood down, with the organisation saying the "significant changes to its structure and leadership" were "to make necessary way for new voices and greater diversity".
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the orgsnisation, which gets funding from the Mayor's office, must seek "a refresh and a reset".
In response to further calls for reform led by LGBTQ activist Peter Tatchell, Pride in London said: "We are on a journey, like many organisations, and whilst we have very recently made some sizable modifications after consultation with our team, including a leadership team made up of 50% minority and ethnic individuals, we will not stop building visibility, unity, and equality into the heart of everything we do."
Pride in London has faced repeated controversies relating to diversity and inclusion in recent years: In 2015, the group came under fire for allowing right-wing party UKIP to march in the parade (a decision which was later reversed), and in 2018 the UK's biggest LGBTQ charity, Stonewall, cut ties with event, citing a lack of inclusion for Black, Asian and ethnic minority members of the community.
The Attitude February issue is out now. Get your copy here.