Pride London’s advisory board proposes renewal

Pride in London’s Independent Community Advisory Board (CAB) today releases its annual report on the 2017 Pride in London events, which also contains its thoughts on the future of the capital’s LGBT+ Pride. Suggestions include a rotating ‘theme’ for the parade with a bi block leading the march some years.

Outlining the report they note that the CAB’s membership is drawn from different strands of London’s LGBT+ communities with the hope of being broadly representative. It provides guidance to Pride on inclusion, governance and other operational issues.

This year’s report focuses heavily on diversity and intersectionality and raises serious concerns about failings by the current Pride organisers to fully acknowledge the diverse nature of London’s LGBT+ communities, particularly in relation to BAME people. The CAB has seen compelling evidence from a reliable third-party source that the relationship of trust and confidence between the Pride Board and UK Black Pride has broken down irretrievably. From that evidence, we have concluded that the responsibility for that breakdown lies exclusively with the Pride Board who have, at every stage, obfuscated and declined to meet with UK Black Pride even through facilitated mediation.

The CAB also question’s the nature of Pride’s #LoveHappensHere marketing campaign and in particular the posters, the contents of which it found was normative, cis, and white and erasing of BAME people, bi people, and trans people for whom there was no visibility. Similarly, there was no obvious visibility for young people or older people. 

The report makes a series of recommendations, including:

  • Full involvement and integration of BAME LGBT+ people into Pride in London is essential to achieve a cohesive and inclusive event, and recommends that the best way to achieve this is to support and resource UK Black Pride, and ensure that BAME LGBT+ people are represented not just at Pride in the Park, but on all stages and in all Pride events.
  • Pride in London should follow the example of Tel Aviv Pride this year, by making bi people the central focus of the Pride Parade in 2018 or 2019, which would require full engagement of bi people and groups in both planning and execution. Going forward, it may be appropriate that each year, one of the more marginalised sections of London’s LGBT communities – for example, BAME, bi, trans, and intersex people – should, on rotation, be given pride of the place in the Parade.
  • Membership of all panels must be arranged significantly ahead of time and should be constituted to represent the breadth of diversity of London’s LGBT+ communities.
  • Pride organisers institute a text message system for future years, enabling mass SMS advice to be disseminated to group leaders about any unexpected delays or issues.
  • Is there any need for wristbands or whether it may be possible to once again operate the Parade without the issuing of wristbands, which is in itself a potentially discriminatory process especially for small organisations, informal groups and individuals. who decide late in the day that they would like to take part in the Parade?
  • Organisers impose a limit on the maximum number of wristbands any one organisation can have, perhaps at 250.
  • Ways the poster campaign might have been made better were by using names that clearly were, for example, of people from a south Asian background, and by including the simple age and gender pronoun in brackets after the name.
  • Pride marketing campaigns should reflect the broadest extent of LGBT+ people’s lived experiences and not solely focus on the normative lifestyles of some. It is essential that such campaigns include people from all sections of London’s LGBT+ communities, and be reflective of their intersections with race, disability, gender, age or religion.

The report goes on to look at the Future of Pride in London, as the current five year grant agreement with the Mayor concludes in 2017. The CAB has recommended:

  • Ahead of the Mayor making any decisions as to the future of Pride in London, we would strongly urge that consultation with the Capital’s LGBT+ communities take place.
  • The Mayor should become the proprietor of the registered trademarks and other intellectual property rights to London LGBT+ Pride and licence, after a competitive tender process, the organisation of the Pride events on a five-year contract, to which should be attached a range of key performance indicators, including on diversity and inclusion. An alternative model might be vesting Pride’s IP rights and the commissioning function in an independent charity or indeed with the CAB itself, but that wouldn’t necessarily have the public and legal accountability of the Mayor being the licensing authority.
  • The best solution to the current overcrowding is for the Parade to begin on the Embankment, travelling via Parliament Square, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, and ending in Hyde Park, representing a unique opportunity to launch an international Pride Festival Day in the heart of London.
  • The Mayor negotiate with the Royal Parks and their entertainment licensee, AEG, to permit Pride to use Hyde Park, including AEG’s festival facilities, for the Pride Festival Day in future years.

The CAB’s Chair, Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett commented:

“After each Pride in London, the Independent Community Advisory Board sit down to discuss if this year’s event has achieved its objectives. When I took over as Chair in February 2016, I made diversity and intersectionality my priority.

We have asked members of LGBT+ communities, both individuals and respected third party organisations, to give us their view in writing so we have evidence and documentation to back up our assertions.

For every criticism in the report, and there are many, we have suggested a reasonable and practical  solution, and where we think further transparency and openness is required, we have asked to see those conversations brought to the CAB well in advance of any decision.

We also felt that there has been significant disquiet across the LGBT+ communities, around Pride’s corporate nature, lack of inclusion, bad handling of sensitive intersectionality issues and it felt that we needed to live up to the expectations of the role and that is providing a frank but honest report on the experiences not only from CAB members but also opinions across our communities.”

CAB Deputy Chair, Edward Lord OBE, added:

“This has not been an easy report to write. The CAB wants Pride to succeed, and we pay tribute to the LLCP Board for the growth of the event over the last five years and for the positive profile that it has generated for LGBT+ people in London and beyond. We regret however that this has been at the cost of the more marginalised members of our communities, those who are already so often erased or ignored.

We fundamentally believe that Pride needs to be for all LGBT+ people, including those who find the labels themselves to be off-putting, who identify as queer and/or genderqueer, who find the presence of the police or big companies uncomfortable. They form part of our communities as well and Pride in London needs to find a way of making them feel welcome. If we achieve that, then we can say truthfully that love, in all of its forms, really does happen here.”