Across the Pond, WorldPride is underway. The event, which happens once every six years, is supposed to be like a cosmopolitan Pride celebration on steroids: Two weeks of parties, talks, arts events and more leading up to a huge parade like only the gays can do.
But this year, host city London is feeling the pinch of a flagging economy, not to mention competition from the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics.
An article in the Evening Standard claims contractors haven’t been paid in full for work done last year, prompting concern they would walk out and significant portions of the event would have to be canceled.
Pride London denies the allegations it owed back pay to contractors or that anyone was threatening a walkout. But there’s no denying there’s a problem: With the parade a little more than a week away, organizers just announced there will be no floats or cars and that the start time will be 11am, not 1pm. Not only will visitors be confused by the time change, but community groups and nonprofits have wasted weeks and thousands of pounds creating eye-catching floats.
Additionally, according to Pride London, events in Soho and the Golden Square have been canceled.
“WorldPride never comes without its financial and logistical difficulties,” read an official statement from organizers, asking for understanding and generosity:
“From members of the public putting change into our collection buckets throughout the festival and the big day itself, to supporters, donors and community organisations, businesses and corporate [leaders] lending their financial support, to the people and businesses that give up their time and provide in-kind products and services —we urge that you continue doing so and come out in force to help us do our good work.
This is not to pay for the “party” – but to create a important and visual platform for the LGBT people of London and the UK.”
Pride London, which is overseeing the mega-event, admitted it had fallen shy of its fundraising goal.
“Each and every year, Pride London needs to achieve some serious commercial targets to fund the event – and this year, targets are even higher than before, because of increased cost, the sheer scale of the planned event and mounting pressure to deliver a “world class” event.
To a backdrop of a more difficult economic climate and tough sponsorship calls considering everything that is happening in London this year, fundraising from both corporates and from within the community has been more challenging than ever. Despite creating a strong sponsorship base for this year’s planned event, there is, in the week leading up to the 7th of July, still a shortfall.”
This isn’t the first time WorldPride has faced hardship: In 2006, when Jerusalem was the host city, religious activists protested the LGBT celebration in what they claimed was a holy city (ditto for Rome, in 2000). Then producers had to cancel the parade because of the Israel-Lebanon conflict. (A makeup march was held in November.)
Was it inevitable WorldPride in London would suffer? You’ve got two massive events drawing sponsorship dollars, tourists and city resources away. Not to mention Europe is in the worst economic situation since… well, since ever.
Or is the culprit more sociological? As barriers to LGBT equality fall, in the West at least, is the younger generation less concerned with having a special place to be here and be queer?