The chair of the UK’s largest Pride event has welcomed the news that the new Mayor of London will be attending this year.
Boris Johnson was elected last week, the first Tory to win the job and only the second Mayor in the post’s history.
He now manages an annual budget of £11bn, and is responsible for grants to community projects and events such as Pride London.
“We are delighted that Boris is attending this year, and pleased that the new Mayor is demonstrating his commitment to the LGBT community by attending,” said Paul Birrell, Chair of Pride London.
“We’re sure that his charisma and humour will shine through at our event, and will go to show that Pride events are supported throughout the political spectrum. And as it’s his first Pride, we promise to be gentle with him.”
Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone was a long-time supporter of gay rights and has attended Pride events for decades.
It is unclear if he will be there this year, though organisers said he would be sure of a warm welcome if he did attend.
For Boris, it will be his first Pride ever, but his advisers told PinkNews.co.uk he is looking forward to it.
There are other areas where gay activists want to see action from the new Mayor, including a follow-up on his assurance during the campaign that City Hall funding for Pride London will be maintained.
The £100,000 grant for the 2008 event has already been contracted.
Mayor Johnson will also have to tackle the LGBT Forum.
Set up under his predecessor to establish dialogue between the Mayor and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans community, it is regarded as a toothless talking shop, and there are calls for it to be either given powers or ditched altogether.
There is also the issue of City Hall funding of the 2008 International Gay & Lesbian Football Association World Championship, which is being held in London in August.
In 2007, Pride London attracted nearly 500,000 people to the centre of the city and cost the charity £392,000, with income from a variety of sources.
Two thirds comes from sponsorship with the further third being made up of grants from bodies such as the Mayor of London, donations-in-kind and individual giving.
A new online donation scheme and website will shortly be launched on their website www.pridelondon.org
Pride London’s Finance Director, Laurie Powell, said:
“It costs the charity an enormous amount of money every year to put on our event and not one penny is wasted.
“We are almost entirely run by volunteers with a small amount of specialist consultant help.
“We rely on our sponsors and donors for the majority of our income and it is never easy persuading these big firms to part with cash, no matter how good our event is.
“We will shortly be launching a new online donation scheme to make it easier for people to support the event. We will be able to recover the tax via the Gift Aid scheme, so these donations will be even more valuable.
“There will still be our donations tins and buckets out before and during the event though so please give generously – if everyone attending the event gave just £1 it would make an enormous difference.”
Pride London will be held on July 5th. Click here for more information.