UK activist Peter Tatchell has lashed out against London Mayor Boris Johnson for not stepping in to toss floundering WorldPride a life preserver.
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.”
BORIS! That’s not even a proper British name. How dare he!
Maybe the article should explain just what the debacle was. And isn’t Elton John the official fairy godmother of desperate English gay organizations? Should be! Although he never even answered my organization’s entreaties and instead ripped off our name!
London is a mess
I lived in London for five years, and it’s a total mess for holding any sort of event.
Expenses are sky-high and facilities generally suck.
Taxes to fly to and from the UK are outrageous (often higher than the ticket fare that goes to the airline), and the city is generally not open, friendly and welcoming.
The city’s gay community is also insular, unfriendly, and “party-oriented.” When compared to the gay populations of other major cities like New York, Toronto or Sydney, there’s an astounding level of ignorance/dispassion about the plights of LGBT people who don’t live in the country (as well as a lack of concern about LGBT rights at a national level).
I’d expect that the “world” pride event failed because most of the world couldn’t afford to get there, and those few who did were treated in that icy, rude and passive-aggressive tone that London is so well-loved for.
I guess it depends on what “too late” was. Once you shift your focus and have moved on, it’s unfair to everyone to backtrack at the last minute. So I’m going to give the mayor some slack. It sounds like if World Pride had better management, it wouldn’t come to this in the first place. Let’s not whine because he didn’t give us a hand up. They need to be better prepared next year. Perhaps they should move it to another city if they have their nickers in a twist over this. There are always two sides to a story.
@London is a mess: This is totally unfair. I’m sorry that you had such a bad experience in London but London really does have one of the greatest and most diverse gay scenes on the planet.
@London is a mess: I live in London and you are absolutely wrong. London is one of the greatest cities in the world and has absolutely the best gay scene in Europe.
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