20 Mar 2021

I learned something new this week, MyPinkNews readers. Did you know that London’s Pride movement first originated in 2012? Yes, only nine short years ago. Before that we had nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nadda.

Well, that’s what Pride in London’s outgoing co-chairs Michael Salter-Church and Alison Camps would have you believe, anyway.

This week started with Rhammel Afflick’s explosive revelations that Pride in London’s leadership team “ignores Black voices” and has shown no desire to meaningfully stand up to racism. Rhammel was, until his resignation earlier this year, Pride in London’s director of communications and the most senior Black team member.

He described Pride in London’s leadership has having a “reluctance to accept that the liberation of LGBT+ people must be coupled with the fight against sexism, ableism, racism and other forms of discrimination” and suggested that the non-profit’s board of directors were unwilling to make meaningful changes to make Pride in London a safe, more affirming place for Black and brown people.

In the days that followed, amid rising concerns over racism, LGBT+ women’s magazine DIVA pulled out from Pride in London’s Women’s Stage, which it had hosted for several years; every member of Pride in London’s advisor board resigned en masse in protest against the “widespread hostility” towards Black and brown people, calling on mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s office to launch an urgent investigation; and Stonewall, Mermaids and the Peter Tatchell Foundation joined the many, many voices calling on Pride on London’s bosses Salter-Church and Camps to do the right thing and stand down.

And stand down they did. On Friday. A little after 5pm. Maybe they hoped fewer journalists would be interested then, huh? The announcement was made on Pride in London’s website that five directors – Salter-Church and Camps included – had resigned with immediate affect in a sprawling, sycophantic, self-aggrandising, 1,000-word love letter to themselves. Tucked away among empty platitudes was the startling revelation that Pride in London was founded by Michael Salter-Church in 2012 “literally from nothing”.

Literally. From. Nothing. Michael Salter-Church, a former adviser to the Conservative Party, one fateful day in 2012 thought to himself one day and said, “You know what London could really do with? A Pride parade.” It was all him. And it is on his shoulders that the city’s LGBT+ community shall stand for years to come. For was it not for Michael Salter-Church, Pride for Londoners simply wouldn’t exist.

I guess London’s first official Gay Pride Rally in 1972 – when 2,000 brave people marched against police brutality and for gay liberation on the nearest Saturday to the three year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots – meant for nothing, huh? I guess the countless queers who sacrificed blood, tears, sweat and, in some cases, even their lives for the advancement of our movement and for the rights we enjoy today did it all for naught, huh? Because Salter-Church created Pride for the LGBT+ community in London “literally from nothing”.

“Michael’s contribution to the Pride movement and equal rights in the UK has been nothing short of extraordinary,” the statement continued. I do wonder who authored this statement and I do wonder if they had actually listened to the brave voices who’ve spoken this week about a “hostile environment” for people of colour in Pride in London with the blame laid directly at the feet of the leadership. While Michael might be keen on re-writing history, let’s not forget that it was under his leadership that UKIP were allowed to march in Pride in London’s parade in 2015 – no, I’m being serious – that raging transphobes were allowed to hijack the front of the parade in 2018, a pain that’s still felt among trans people, and that Stonewall – the country’s largest LGBT+ charity – withdrew its support from Pride in London, standing shoulder to shoulder with UK Black Pride, citing a “lack of diversity”.

The writing really has been on the wall for some time, huh?

I’d say the issues with Pride in London and the environment created by its leadership for people of colour have been an open secret for some time, but when you see it all written down like that, I don’t think “secret” is the right word. An open embarrassment, maybe?

Anyway, thanks for throwing the first brick at Stonewall, Michael Salter-Church, and creating the Pride movement “literally from nothing”. Maybe now, in your departure, the greatest city in the world can finally have a Pride celebration it can be proud of. Maybe now we can remember that first and foremost, Pride is always, always a protest. And when we have trans people facing a death from a thousand cuts in the UK, being crushed by relentless attacks by extremists, and actually fleeing the country because it feels so impossible to be trans here, we still have plenty we should be f**king protesting about.

Until next time!

Ryan Butcher


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