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Letter from the Board of Pride in London

15 June 2015

We write in response to the open letter published on 13th June ‘Don’t let corporations spoil the spirit of Pride’.

London LGBT+ Community Pride (a Community Interest Company) won the responsibility to deliver London’s Pride celebrations for five years from 2013, through an open tender process lead by the Mayor of London following the failure in 2012 of the previous organisers.

Our voluntary Board is drawn from all parts of the community and across the political spectrum. In fact, Pride in London is run entirely by a hugely diverse group of unpaid volunteers, in spite of being one of the biggest one day events in the capital. We utterly reject the charge that we are politically biased against or in favour of any particular group.

Since 2013 it has been our central aim to deliver successful, and safe Pride celebrations in London. We are proud to work with UK Black Pride, supporting their work with a new Sunday event. We have sought to take the message of Pride across the capital and beyond through our campaigns to drive attitudinal change. Last year we ran Pride’s first ever advertising campaign to support this mission, and a similar campaign will be run this year. We hold open meetings for the community. It is also our goal to put Pride in London on a stable, and sustainable financial footing so that it is not placed in jeopardy again as it was in 2012.

Each year we recruit and train hundreds of volunteers to act as stewards on the route of the Parade. We also provide entertainment and activities in Trafalgar Square, Soho and Vauxhall for the hundreds of thousands who take part in Pride. Their safety must be our primary concern and duty as Directors of Pride in London.

To achieve all this for the community, we need to raise some £600,000 each year to supplement our annual grant from the Mayor of London of £100,000.

Corporate sponsors make Pride possible and enable their LGBT+ colleagues to express their pride and solidarity with the rest of the community in ways that are making a real and lasting difference to attitudes in the workplace and in wider society.

We had offered Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) the lead place in the parade this year. This invitation did not extend to the whole of the Trades Union Congress’ contingent of several floats and more than a thousand marchers, not least because of the need for a safe access space for disabled Pride marchers to be located very close to the beginning of the parade. Nonetheless, the TUC was insistent that its group should be with LGSM. So we were grateful when Mike Jackson of LGSM offered the practical compromise of moving his contingent to be with the TUC group and we accepted his suggestion.

Leading the Pride in London Parade this year will now be more than 200 London residents from across the globe, each proudly bearing the flag of their birth nation, whether that place is accepting of them or still discriminates against LGBT+ people. They will send our message of inclusivity and solidarity around the world as we here in London celebrate the Pride Heroes who continue the fight for genuine equality.

Pride in London this year has become something of a lightning rod for groups attempting to make political points unrelated to Pride without concern for the impact on the community at large, or our ability to organise a safe event and protect the welfare of our stewards.

Pride is, and shall remain under our stewardship, a platform for a multitude of groups ranging from charities to sports clubs, employee networks to campaigning groups, LGBT+ businesses to political parties and trade unions, to celebrate, campaign, recruit new members, raise profile and just have a fun day out, respecting each other and celebrating diversity.

The Board of Pride will continue to make careful and balanced decisions that reflect our remit as custodians of a very precious privilege: the right to celebrate our freedoms in the heart of our great capital.

The Board of London LGBT+ Community Pride
Rob Anderson, David Bloomfield, Alison Camps, Patrick Lyster-Todd, Huma Qazi, Michael Salter, Polly Shute, Stephen Ward and Mohsin Zaidi

An edited version of this letter appeared in The Guardian, 15 June 2015.

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