Pride in London is called to account by the Community Advisory Board

The Community Advisory Board today released its post-event report on Pride in London (PLCP). I have a mixture of emotions about it. I’m happy to see the experiences and feelings of many of the community expressed in writing, and it certainly completely confirms the experiences of all those who contacted me in frustration/upset/discontent in the run up to Pride; however I’m also sad. I love London, and I love Pride – but I love a Pride that is as diverse and inclusive as the LGBT community with which I feel a part of and this year I have never felt so distant from Pride.

What is the Community Advisory Board (CAB)?

When the current pride committee was set up, they were appointed by the then Mayor of London after bidding against other potential groups. PLCP applied as a Community Interest Company (CIC) and part of their pitch was to have an independent group, consisting of a variety of different people in the community who would provide an independent view, guidance and type of moral compass for Pride in London. Realistically they have no powers, but are able to voice the opinions of the LGBT+ community, particularly those more niche or marginalised groups.

What did the CAB report?

In summary, to quote the summary headline of the report:

"the current Pride organisers have failed to grasp the importance of diversity, nor of the intersectionalities that many LGBT+ people experience around race, gender, age, disability, and even their sexual orientation and identity"

The report goes into great detail to the many failings of Pride in London this year, which ended up being a corporate-focused, corporate-led event. There are definitely some concerning points raised (this is by no means a comprehensive list:

  • Pride in the Park felt disconnected and like the Pride in London stage and UK Black Pride stages were separate events. BAME people were largely absent from the main Pride in London events. Pride in London made little effort to work with or promote UK Black Pride and are seen as exclusively responsible for the breakdown in communications, even declining to meet under mediation circumstances with the CAB.
  • Bisexual groups were not present in the parade because registration closed early after the majority of parade places were assigned to corporates, brands and sponsors. Pride in London eventually had to ask all corporates and sponsors to return some wristbands to enable a few more community groups to enter the parade. A bisexual group was only included in the parade after a social media campaign, and the group marched under the Pride Organisers Network and not as their own entity. (Planet Nation analysis of 2017 parade groups)
  • Parade Stewards did not know how to deal with lost children and appear to have failings around safe guarding procedures.
  • Pride in London volunteers and senior members were seen to support the attacking of Ruth Hunt, CEO of Stonewall on social media when she attempted to call out around the lack of diversity of the promotion of events by the official media partner of Pride in London.
  • The Pride in London parade has become a corporate fun day and marketing activity. Income generation is important but should not detract from the parade and balance is needed.
  • The marketing campaign was too white and cis and also lacked older and younger. It generally was not representative of the whole community and also a number of segments had to be pulled as they actually offended parts of the community.
  • The reliance on sole use of unpaid labour was noted to mean that the resulting volunteers are often only from a core part of the community who have the time to contribute.
  • Pride in London do not appear to listen to the huge amount of experience and knowledge offered by the CAB. A completely voluntary resource is disregarded.

You can read the full 2017 Community Advisory Board report here.

Anyone interested in taking a closer look at the Pride in London accounts, you can download these on the Companies House website. A summary of the first 4 years (2012-2016 is available here).

What are the CAB recommendations?

  • 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.

Why is Pride in London held at Trafalgar Square?

When the new Pride in London organisers were appointed, the Mayor of London provided a 5 year deal. They would support the festival each year, on a decreasing financial scale, but with the requirement to use Trafalgar Square. This has meant that Pride has been restricted in the space available, and also has needed to increase the money raised each year as the Mayor’s funding has decreased.

However, 2017 was the last year of this deal so negotiations should start on any future deal with the Mayor of London. Hopefully Pride in London will realise that Trafalgar Square is too small a space and look to relocate to a park. Certainly the previous reasons for not hosting the event in Hyde Park have been unsurped by the now frequent use of the Royal Park as a festival ground and so any reasons given as to why this cannot happen could only really being down to it being a Pride event.

There is no questioning that the current Pride in London organisers have taken an event which was in debt and failing and turned it into a profitable event; however you have to question if it has gone to far into becoming a corporate machine. With no real campaign that would directly improve the lives of LGBT people in London (intersex people need visibility, trans people are still subject to hate crimes, many LGBT people in London are non-UK citizens, biphobia exists within our community, BAME people are likely to earn less and less likely to get promoted or hired – the list goes on), and with so much focus on the corporate sponsors it is clear that Pride in London has seemingly forgotten that it is a Community Interest Company (CIC). This means that it is supposed to operate to improve the lives of the community.

There are some key questions that need answering:

  • With all the corporate sponsorship, why are they still taking cuts of tickets from small community members who are struggling to promote and run events year-round?
  • Why have they only donated a total of £591 to LGBT charities over the last 4 years (2017’s accounts will not be available until December 2017)?
  • Why when this year, Pride in London announced it was focussing on marginalised groups including trans, bisexuals and women did they seem to do a worse job than previously?
  • What tangible benefit has Pride in London provided to back up its aims of supporting the community?
  • With such a small available space, is such a large marketing campaign, with no particular objectives, necessary?
  • Why are they spending £65,000 a year on consultancy when the Board is members of the community, there is a Community Advisory Board and there are numerous London-based consultancy firms who could offer this as an in-kind sponsorship?

There is no doubt going to be some hard questions at the next Pride in London board meeting. It will be interesting to see what they plan for 2018 in response to this report, and if they make any public response. This report is hard hitting, but ultimately very honest and I can honestly say I am very proud of the Community Advisory Board for publishing this and I truly hope that they are able to influence the change that is necessary to make Pride in London as awesome and inclusive as it has the potential to be.


Back in June I was quoted alongside Peter Tatchell in Pink News talking about the issues of Pride being too corporate focussed with over 50% of parade groups being corporate (official Pride Parade breakdown). I was inundated with promoters of official Pride events begging for help promoting their events because they weren’t getting the support of Pride in London, or from groups who were neglected or ignored.

I also wrote an article on Planet Nation explaining my disappointment at the lack of engagement and support in my efforts to increase the offerings of events for women in the festival fortnight running up to the Pride in London parade day and promoted all of the events aimed at women in an attempt to show support to a marginalised and niche group that I have a great deal of pride in.


About the Community Advisory Board

The Community Advisory Board is seeking to fill a number of vacancies. If you are interested in supporting this group in holding Pride in London accountable, roles available include:

Disabled People representative, Faith and Belief Groups representative, Performers representative, Professional Groups representative, Trans People representative and one open representative role. Existing representatives include people from Opening Doors London (older), Out for Sport (sport), Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre (young people), Wandsworth LGBT Forum (local groups), Kings College NHS Foundation Trust (health), QMSU (BAME), Winter Pride (Arts) and Bi UK (bisexual people).


UPDATES

Pride in London have published a response (which doesn't actually respond to any parts of the report. View their response here.

It has come to light via a post on Facebook that the CAB don't even have access to the pages on the Pride in London website and have no support from Pride in London through their extensive resources to help recruit the missing roles. In addition Pride in London has publicly attacked the CAB for having two white cis men at their leadership - obviously ignoring the 16 people across health, bi, trans, sport, community, youth, older, local groups, disability, faith, performers, Arts and BAME that are all represented in the group.

Diva Magazine has published an article citing a Pride in London source stating that the CAB tried to remove women's visibility from Pride in London in their 2016 report. In fact the 2016 report asked Pride to improve women's visibility. It did report on feedback received suggesting a broaded stage without branding of women's stage to be more inclusive however this seems to have been taken out of context. In addition, upon review of the 2016 CAB report it appears the majority of recommendations by the CAB have been ignored. Read the 2016 CAB report here.

Some key questions that should be asked of Pride in London

Als a Community Interest Company (CIC) Pride in London are supposed to support the community. Yet they take ticket income from small promoters running festival events in exchange for promotion which just means listing on a website of over 80 events. The charitable donations over 4 years is only £591. With no active campaign either, how is this CIC supporting the LGBT+ community in London?

With £764,000+ income, running on just volunteers except for one admin for 3 months before the event is not a good process. One might suggest that this could be seen as free labour and taking advantage of the community.

Why are Pride in London misleading people with a 'charity single': https://twitter.com/TheRestOfUsLdn. The money goes to Pride in London, who are not a charity. With so much corporate sponsorship, income from donations, merchandise, ticket income from 50+ paid events why is a charity single raising yet more money for Pride in London?

What is £65k a year spent on for consultancy? Surely with the CAB, and a board of LGBT people and 1000 volunteers there should be little to consult on? If there is, why aren't Pride in London asking one of the many consultancy companies based in London for it in exchange for sponsorship as it does with media brands?
 
Why don't Pride in London offer a community pot like Brighton Pride, Leeds Pride and Manchester Pride does?