The Executive Director of Pride in London, Christopher Joell-Deshields, has confirmed that 2021’s event, which had been postponed from its traditional July slot to September, will now not be going ahead. Citing onerous public health regulations, Mr Joell-Deshields delivered the news on Pride in London’s YouTube channel.
In a three minute video, Mr Joell-Deshields confirmed that new government regulations meant that Pride in London would not be able to have a parade and that the event itself would be limited to three disparate stages across central London with strict limits on the availability of tickets.
The cancellation of Pride in London 2021 marks the culmination of a miserable and controversial few months for the organisation. In March of this year, the entire Pride in London advisory board resigned amid rancorous accusations of racism, marginalisation and bullying which also led to the resignation of the organisation’s most senior black volunteers, Rhammel Afflick.
Pride in London has also faced accusations of pandering to its corporate sponsors to the detriment of grass roots LGBTQ+ organisations. It is undeniable that, for the past few years, the event has become a sea of corporate logos with the parade itself populated chiefly by sponsors and their staff while LGBTQ+ people who do not happen to work for a bank, transnational media company or any other sponsor relegated to watching from the sidelines.
The backlash against the commercialisation of Pride in London came to a head with the Reclaim Pride London march to Parliament Square on 24th July. Organised by Peter Tatchell with the support of DIVA Magazine and UK Black Pride, Reclaim Pride is an attempt to take Pride back to its roots as a protest movement.
In July DIVA Magazine’s publisher Linda Riley wrote, “When I hear that people are prohibited from marching at large events because of limited numbers or cost, or that the interests of banks, law firms and airlines have been prioritised, it does seem clear that, somewhere along the line, the scales have tipped too far in favour of sponsors to the detriment of LGBTQIA+ people seeking to celebrate their identity.”
Read Rob Harkavy’s opinion piece from March 2021.