London LGBT+ Community Pride is the new Community Interest Company that’s been entrusted with managing Pride in London from this year until 2017. And we have a simple message to start with: if you want pride to continue, you need to get involved. It’s that simple – we need people to commit time, energy and money because we’re trying to organize in five months an event that normally takes a year!
As a group we all came together and stepped forward because we wanted to give London the celebration it deserves. What should have been an amazing World Pride 2012 in what was an incredible year for London was, let’s face it, not only a disappointment but an embarrassment. Although the parade had a great energy forged in that adversity.
We were chosen by London’s mayor in a competitive process during November and December and we were only able to announce we had won in January, once the contract with the Greater London Authority had been agreed.
This gives us only five months to plan, fund and deliver one of the three largest annual events in London. The other two are the Notting Hill Carnival and the New Year’s Eve fireworks.
Our name, London LGBT+ Community Pride, is not the catchiest, but its origins and meanings are incredibly important.
First the ‘plus’ sign after LGBT. It is there because of the incredible diversity of the community we serve. In recent years there’s been criticism that Pride has not spoken effectively to – or for – women, the black and minority ethnic LGBT community or people on the trans spectrum.
People of faith have also felt excluded and even ridiculed. That’s just wrong in a city – and country – as accepting of difference and buzzing with the energy and creativity it brings, as London. Pride should be for all, and that includes providing space for families to engage and for us to be able to celebrate with our straight mates and supporters too.
Second, the word community. The executive has members from across the political and social spectrum. There are men and women of all ages. It includes people who are genderqueer and trans, people of faith, some who are well-known on the scene and others less likely to be seen out in the bars and clubs.
But even that diversity doesn’t cover everyone. And we do not for one minute think we understand everything that everyone who identifies as part of the LGBT+ community could want or need from pride.
We know we cannot act without the support and active involvement of the broadest community. That’s why we are holding open meetings to get feedback on our plans and seek more ideas. We’re taking care to consult on accessibility for disabled people. And we’re encouraging and supporting community groups to run their own events under the pride banner.
We want to create a platform that will mean that all sorts of voices can be heard – and celebrated – as part of pride.
Our appeal for the hundreds of volunteers it takes to deliver pride is reaching out far and wide. We are the only parade that closes Europe’s busiest shopping street so you can understand why over 700 volunteers are needed to make it happen. Why not volunteer yourself – it guarantees you will have a great pride!
We are also putting together a Community Advisory Board (CAB) to watch over us. This is really important to us and we’re delighted that Lisa Power (a former secretary general of the International Lesbian and Gay Association) will be chairing it in a personal capacity.
We’re still taking nominations from community groups who would like a representative on this board that will provide support and advice as well as scrutiny. So if you are part of a group who wants to get involved, be it a sports team or large charity, please nominate yourself or someone else.
The CAB will help us meet our ambitions for inclusion. It will advise us on what people expect and need from Pride. If we do not accept the CAB’s advice on something we will explain clearly why not. We will be open and transparent in all that we do. We have to rebuild faith in Pride in London, faith that has been eroded.
And I know people are always interested in the money. As a Community Interest Company any surplus we make can only be spent on one of two things: future Pride events or given to LGBT charities, clubs, teams, organizations and groups. We hope this underlines our commitment to serving our community.
We want Pride in London to be for, of and by our community. And we need the community to work together with us because only together can we put on a pride that will make all Londoners proud, celebrate our achievements, campaign for change and continue to remind people of the importance of equality.
Pride is also more than the one day, there will be a week of events leading up to 29 June so if you’re part of a group that would like to host an event as part of the Pride Festival please let us know.
The Paralympics, Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee set the bar high in terms of events hosted in and by London. We might not leap over that bar in year one, but together we can build Pride in London in the coming years to become a beacon to the rest of the world. It’s no more than we, and London, deserve.
This is your pride! So visit our site to get involved in shaping and delivering it.