Open letter to Pride in London

The Pink Singers have decided not to participate in London Pride this year due to the racism and bullying experienced by Black people and People of Colour within Pride in London and the lack of progress in addressing this so far. 

We remain committed to the Pride cause and hope to see evidence of concrete change within Pride in London that results in an event that is inclusive and welcoming for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community. We will continue to mark and celebrate other Pride events, such as London Trans Pride on 26 June, and use our platform to both raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and showcase the joy and diversity of queer life in the UK and overseas.

In response to our letter, Pride in London invited us to meet with them to discuss the issues we raised. We are grateful for the meeting and the opportunity to ask questions and to hear about their approach to dealing with the accusations of racism and bullying within their organisation. Our position on participating this year hasn’t changed as a result of this discussion but we will continue to engage in discussions with Pride in London and look forward to seeing evidence of positive changes in the future. Specifically we would like to see evidence of a thorough investigation into concerns raised about racism and bullying, and plans to ensure a culture of open communication and genuine engagement with a range of stakeholders in the organisation, particularly people of colour.

Our letter to Pride in London in full:

Dear Pride in London,

We are writing to you following the resignation of Pride in London’s Community Advisory Board on 19th March citing a “hostile environment” for volunteers of Colour and your subsequent promise to carry out a full review of your processes and procedures to address their concerns. 

The Pink Singers is Europe’s longest-established LGBTQ+ choir and was specifically formed in 1983 at the request of the Pride organisers to provide a choir for the Pride March. We have not missed a London Pride March, Parade or Festival since then and we are committed to supporting Pride as a safe and inclusive celebration. 

Since that first Pride, we have established ourselves as a charity and one of the choir’s key objectives is to promote equality and diversity for LGBTQ+ people by example, education and raising awareness; and by promoting activities to foster understanding between people from diverse backgrounds. 

We work to ensure that the choir is a place that welcomes and offers solidarity to all. 

As such, we were deeply concerned to hear of the racism and bullying experienced by Black people and People of Colour within Pride in London. These events have caused us to consider our relationship with you as an organisation. 

We abhor racism of all kinds. We care about the problems that have been raised by Pride in London. In terms of our own inclusivity, The Pink Singers does not fully reflect the diversity of London. We still have work to do to be a space where all LGBTQ+ people feel welcome and at the heart of the community, no matter their “race” or ethnicity. We are therefore putting the voices of the Black people and other People of Colour in our choir front and centre as we decide how to approach London Pride this year and in the future.

We note that, back in March, you acknowledged that you needed to “rebuild trust with Black communities and People of Colour” and committed to a board-level review of your processes and procedures “to bring about tangible and meaningful change”. We are concerned that this review has not yet been published and also that its scope will fall short of the Community Advisory Board’s demand for a full investigation.

You have more recently released a statement apologising to volunteers who experienced racism, bullying and other forms of discrimination. At the same time you set out your ‘Proud of Pride’ plan consisting of actions you would take to address these issues within the organisation. We welcome the apology and the plan, however we are concerned that these actions may not be implemented or go far enough. We will not be reassured until we see evidence of concrete change.

Therefore, we feel unable to participate in London Pride until such time as your organisation can demonstrate in actions, not simply words, that racism has no place in your organisation and that you are truly committed to diversity, inclusion and equality. 

If we can be of help to you in achieving that aim and creating a London Pride that serves our entire community, we stand ready to assist.

Yours sincerely,

Joey Tabone, Charity Chair

Zoë Burdo, Trustee

Helen Drew, Trustee

Rusty Livock, Trustee

Alice Milton-Doyle, Trustee

Benjamin Peters, Trustee

The Pink Singers