Pride in London has announced that five of its board of directors – including founder Michael Salter-Church and his co-chair Alison Camps – have resigned following demands for change in the wake of allegations of racism.
“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 centers Black volunteers, people of color and other marginalized 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,” the organization noted in a written statement.
The action was taken a day after the organization’s entire, 10-person, advisory board quit, signing a resignation letter that The Guardian reports focused on allegations that it is a hostile environment for people of color. “Contributing to this hostile environment, is the increasing preoccupation at Pride in London with managing the public relations concerns of its leadership, at the cost of supporting its Black and POC [people of colour] volunteers or community members,” the resignation letter says, according to The Guardian.
This mass resignation was itself triggered by the resignation of Rhammel Afflick, a former director of communications and one of the most senior Black volunteers — and by Pride in London’s decision to allow the Metropolitan Police to apply to again march in the parade, despite calls to ban them following last year’s Black Lives Matter protests.
Activists point out that the London police have a history of brutality and over-policing against the LGBTQ+ community and their presence at Pride has long been opposed.
The advisory board accused Pride in London of failing to “listen to, advocate for and platform Black LGBT+ people”.
“We are not confident that Pride in London can act on behalf of Black and POC communities on the issue of policing with any credence, given the alarming accounts of marginalization and bullying from Black and POC volunteers,” the resignation letter says according to The Guardian.
In a recent interview with Gay Times, Rhammel spoke about the lack of inclusion of BIPOC, saying “There was no willingness to protect Black and brown people. The unwillingness to put in place a system that supports outspoken marginalized voices – showing contempt for Black communities and not feeling that there is an obligation to respond to Black issues… I’m saddened to say that I’ve lost all confidence in the leadership’s ability to successfully address the adversities faced by our multi-faceted communities.”
Pride in London has announced that the position of interim co-chair will be filled by Chris Joell-Deshields (current community engagement director) with another co-chair to be named in the coming days as they seek permanent replacements.
“A transitional board, composed of some of the existing members, will remain in place to guide the organization forward over the coming months and to implement this transition,” the organization says. “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 organization to be better supporters of people of color.”
The organization has also announce a newly created position 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," the organization's statement concludes. "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.”