This has not been a great week for Pride in London. Firstly, its former Director of Communications and most senior black staffer, Rhammel Affleck, resigned his position over concerns of a “culture of racism” at the top of the non-profit, which is responsible for the UK’s biggest pride march.
What followed the day after was the ENTIRE advisory board quitting, citing a “hostile environment” for people of colour. Now, Stonewall – one of the leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights charity in the United Kingdom – has called for the resignation of London Pride organisers amidst “disturbing” accounts of racism and bullying.
“We support the calls from the community advisory board for a new leadership to take the organisation forward and for an independent investigation by the mayor’s office into the alarming accounts of marginalisation and bullying of volunteers, with publication of the outcome,” commented chief executive Nancy Kelly.
Along with their resignation the former Pride in London advisory board have also demanded that London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, investigate leadership at the organisation. Khan was the first London Mayor to ever lead the city’s Pride Parade and in 2018 said “Here in London, you’re free to love whoever and be whoever you want to be”.
Stonewall had previously severed ties with Pride in 2018 over concerns about inclusion at the organisation, and this morning (19 March) joined calls for the leadership team to step down.
“We have lost confidence that Pride in London’s leadership has the genuine commitment to serve all our communities, and the openness to learn from past mistakes and work sincerely to be a more equitable, anti-racist organisation.
“The resignation of Pride in London’s entire community advisory board because of a hostile environment and a culture of bullying only confirms our belief that the leadership at Pride in London must change.
“At Stonewall, people of colour within our organisation have experienced institutional racism, and we continue to challenge the biases of a predominantly white leadership.
“It is imperative for white-led organisations working for social justice to reflect honestly on the racism within our own institutions and take meaningful, concerted and sustainable action to address it.”
Following Afflick’s resignation, Pride in London made a statement acknowledging that it “missed the mark” in terms of supporting its Black and POC volunteers as it vowed to change.
“The board of directors takes full accountability of the organisation’s diversity and inclusion,” a spokesperson said.
They went on to comment “We take concerns around bullying very seriously and have a number of processes in place for our volunteers to be able to lodge formal complaints, including anonymously, which are then followed up on and investigated.
“We acknowledge that we need to rebuild trust with Black communities and people of colour, and to that end we are conducting a full review of our processes and procedures at board level in order to bring about tangible and meaningful change. We will share more on these decisions within the next week.”