Action speaks louder than words and when it comes to inequality, inaction can be deafening.
Following the 2020 death of George Floyd and the subsequent conversation raised by the Black Lives Matter movement, white bisexual community leaders made a commitment to active and evolving anti-racism. At the same time, so did Pride in London.
Now, in 2021 the same bisexual community leaders are disturbed by the assertions of structural and institutional racism made by the volunteers at Pride in London, and commend the actions of the Community Advisory Board, who all tendered their resignation on 18 March 2021, due to what they called a ‘hostile environment’.
The events of this week have revealed how deep Pride in London’s problems run. We recognise the description of Pride in London’s leadership as hostile, combative and fixed in their thinking, as well as contemptuous towards minority groups, paying little more than lip service to what matters to our communities.
As organisations representing a wide range of bisexual communites and issues, we have taken the decision to withdraw from Pride in London until evidence of permanent meaningful change is presented.
We stand in solidarity with Rhammel Afflick, a bisexual man and previously the most senior Black volunteer within Pride in London whose principled stance provoked this response.
Libby Baxter-Williams (she/her) of bisexual women’s organisation Biscuit said, ‘what has come to light is deeply troubling. Biscuit makes no claims to perfection, but we are committed to active anti-racism, and that means reflecting on the power held by white people in white institutions and dismantling the structures that do not serve the most marginalised in our communities.
“While we understand withdrawing from the parade and surrounding festival means little to no explicit bisexual representation we feel that we would be doing a disservice to our community by supporting Pride in London”.
Marcus Morgan (they/them) of the activist group The Bisexual Index added, “Every community needs to work to fight against racism and dismantle the existing systems of inequality that fail those at the intersections. For years bi+ activists have concentrated on getting bisexual representation improved at Pride In London. It’s been an uphill struggle, but it’s time to ask ourselves, as a community – who has been left behind?”
Lo Shearing (they/she) of the Bi Survivors Network and BWithTheT said: “Despite Pride in London positioning itself as a diverse representation of the LGBT+ community, the London bi+ community has been fighting hard over the past few years to finally see ourselves fully included within the event. Now however, we are using our absence to denounce the structural racism within Pride in London. We stand in solidarity with all the brave volunteers who have made their voices heard over the last few weeks and cannot in good faith, take part in an event which is not safe and welcoming for all members of the bi+ community.
BWithTheT was born in part as a reaction to the events of 2018 when a transphobic group was allowed to march at the front of the parade. In the following year, The Outside Project and African Rainbow Family attempted to march at the back of the parade, having been priced out of attending, and were met with Police hostility. Whilst Pride in London has talked a lot since then about its efforts to be more inclusive and community focused, the events of the last few days paint a troubling picture that Pride in London has not made enough change and does not serve the needs of the LGBT+ community.”
The organisation behind London’s LGBT Pride celebration has changed many times over the years since it first took place 1972. The resignation with immediate effect of co-chairs Michael Salter-Church and Alison Camps, as well as three other senior staffers, is a vindication of the claims of bullying and racism that have recently come to light.
Racism and anti-Black sentiment have no place in the LGBTQ community. We are confident that real and meaningful change can occur only if those with the power and privilege to make it so stand up.