In a statement to the press Tatchell, said:
“The World Pride organisers have made mistakes and must share some of the blame for the current shambles. However, they are not the sole villains. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, could have rescued Pride but has apparently chosen to not do so. The actions and inactions of the Greater London Authority (GLA) have compounded the problems that Pride now faces.”
Tatchell claims the local government dragged its feet and rejected possible solutions out of hand: “City Hall has known about the problems for many weeks. Like Pride, the mayoral team failed to involve other LGBT stakeholders and financiers to raise extra cash and to draft a credible rescue plan. If the Mayor had acted weeks ago, we would not be in this mess.”
The veteran rabble-rouser alleges that, just last week, corporations like Gaydar and Smirnoff offered more than £60,000 ($90,000) to cover Pride’s funding shortfall but that Mayor Johnson declined the offer, saying it was “too late.” Tatchell also accuses the Greater London Authority of price-gouging Pride organizers, vetting all WorldPride press releases and forcing organizers to pay for everything up front even though festival profits would have bridged the budget gap.
And even though Mayor’s office has apparently had a strong hand in dictating WorldPride’s production, Johnson himself won’t be in attendance.
Adding to the London LGBT community’s woes is the news that GFest, the city’s annual gay and transgender arts festival, has been cancelled because of funding problems as well.
Though GFest is held in November and is independent of Pride, it’s also suffered from a tanked economy and competition from major civic events like the Queen’s Jubilee and the Summer Olympics. “We have to take the unprecedented step of announcing that GFEST will not take place this year,” read a statement from organizers. “This has been a difficult decision to make and it is with sad heart that we do so in order to avoid any potential negative impact on the artists. The majority of our options to secure any additional grant support, commercial and corporate sponsorships were also met with limited or no response.”
Journalist/activist Benjamin Cohen, a trustee for the charity that runs GFest, called the cancellation “another blow to our community following the WorldPride debacle.”