FROM: The Pride in London Press Team

We in the LGBT+ community know very well that as we travel the long road to equality, equity and a fair society, there come pivotal moments. Sometimes these moments can be caused by a new generation bringing fresh perspectives and thinking, seeing inadequacies in what has come before and seeking change. This is what has always sustained our movement and given it vitality and strength.

We have recently faced such a moment. In response to recent critical media coverage and feedback received from former volunteers and the LGBT+ community on the urgent need for Pride in London to create a more inclusive environment, which centres black volunteers, people of colour and other marginalised community groups, the London LGBT Community Pride CIC (“Pride in London”) board is announcing immediate and significant changes to its structure and leadership, to make necessary way for new voices and greater diversity.

To address this challenging generational moment, five Directors have resigned, including both Co-Chairs Michael Salter-Church and Alison Camps, with immediate effect. They will be supporting a smooth handover of their knowledge to the remaining Directors. All wish to put on record their thanks to LGBT+ communities for the opportunity and honour of serving as volunteers, to wish the new leadership team every success and to reaffirm their commitment to hearing and standing with marginalised communities.

Since Pride in London was founded by Michael Salter-Church in 2012, literally from nothing, it has developed into one of the biggest Prides in the world and is London’s third biggest annual event and the world’s largest LGBT+ fundraising event. 2019’s event was widely recognised as the biggest and most diverse Pride London has ever staged, with more than 1.5 million people participating and nearly 600 groups taking part in the parade, vividly representing the entire spectrum of LGBT+ peoples. 

Michael’s contribution to the Pride movement and equal rights in the UK has been nothing short of extraordinary. A prominent and leading voice in the campaign for marriage equality, recognised by former Prime Minister David Cameron, who supported the change in law, as the reason he changed his mind, he has demonstrated time and again his passion for the elevation of LGBT+ voices and experiences and we thank him for his monumental contribution to all that has been achieved over the last nine years.

Alison Camps also joined Pride in London at the start of the journey, initially as Marketing Director, where she promoted visibility of marginalised groups in our campaigns, including the first ever ads to feature trans couples. Alison is a fierce trans ally and passionate about the visibility of women in the Pride movement. She argued for the return of a Women’s stage at the event and has been a constant and powerful advocate for the need for more and better inclusion of LBTQ women from all our communities.

Pride in London would not be possible without its extraordinary volunteers, and our departing Directors have given of themselves tirelessly and selflessly. Leading an organisation as volunteers, on top of day jobs, relationship and family commitments, let alone in a pandemic, is not easy, and they have done the job with passion, humility and grace. Pride in London has changed for the better in so many ways from where it started to where it is now and although they would be the first to say that deeper change is now needed, they all leave with our thanks and admiration for what they have achieved.

Looking forward, we are pleased to announce that the position of interim Co-Chair will be taken by Chris Joell-Deshields (Community Engagement Director) with another Co-Chair to be appointed in coming days for an initial period of twelve weeks to help manage the process of appointing new, permanent Co-Chairs.

A transitional Board, composed of some of the existing members, will remain in place to guide the organisation forward over the coming months and to implement this transition. They will seek immediate engagement with key community stakeholders from minority groups to advise on the action plan that has been created in the last 48 hours to evolve the organisation to be better supporters of people of colour.

This working group will be inviting community voices and leaders to round table conversations over the coming weeks to help shape our Diversity and Inclusion strategy and team, headed by a newly created role of Diversity and Inclusion Director.

Pride in London is committed to rebuilding the trust of minority communities which it knows is broken, but we hope not irreparably. We are aware that only through immediate and decisive action as well as demonstrable change in the coming weeks and months can we authentically show its commitment to diverse voices and experiences.

As with any organisation, fresh voices and ideas are important for the organisation to grow and develop and we look forward to welcoming those individuals as part of Pride in London’s leadership and wider volunteer team over the coming months.

Pride in London’s leadership team hopes that our actions now and in the near future will go some way in providing certainty and comfort to those who have felt ignored or ostracised as part of their experience with the organisation, and we will do its utmost to regain trust and confidence from the community and will be held accountable to the community in doing so.

We will provide updates with further information as it becomes available, but in the meantime ask you to remember that everyone in this organisation, including our out-going volunteers, has always had the very best of intentions for the entire community. We would ask the community to join together to support our efforts to bring about change and help us organise an event that everyone within the LGBT+ Community can feel included in and proud of. We have far more that connects and unites us than sets us apart. We are stronger together and we will be better for these changes. 

Only reading DIVA online? You’re missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It’s pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves. //

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