DIVA and Pride in London restart conversations to celebrate Pride turning 50


In March 2021 DIVA withdrew support for Pride in London following reports of racism within the organisation and resignations from several board members. Prior to this, DIVA was a media partner for Pride in London and the founding partner for the hugely successful DIVA Women’s Stage in Leicester Square.

Also in March last year, reports emerged regarding lesbophobic behaviour within the UK’s largest Pride event, with outlets include PinkNews covering the story. During a panel discussion on social networking app Clubhouse, LGBTQI ally and former Pride in London performer, Sinitta, shared that during her time working with the organisation she heard “derogatory things” said, including one member allegedly saying, “We don’t want the hairy lesbians muscling in on it, do we?”

DIVA asked Pride in London to investigate this matter urgently and issue an official apology.

Pride in London has now made that apology in the form of an open letter to DIVA publisher Linda Riley, which we are including here in full.

Dear Linda Riley, Publisher of DIVA Magazine

Pride in London, wishes to thank DIVA magazine for taking the time to speak and work with us on providing further clarity on the reported lesbophobic comment which was referenced in an article in 2021. We thank DIVA for their significant contribution to Pride in London over the years, including to the PIL Women’s Stage Leicester Square, and look forward to rebuilding our relationship and coming together to celebrate Pride’s 50th anniversary this year. 

The remark was brought to the attention of Pride in London in 2021, and was subsequently investigated. Having concluded our internal investigations, Pride in London wishes to apologise unreservedly for the inferred hurt and offence caused by the individual responsible for the remark, who was affiliated with the organisation at the time the comment was made in 2016 within a private setting. Although this individual was affiliated with Pride in London in 2016, we must make clear that the views expressed were not and are not those of the organisation. 

The individual concerned subsequently resigned from their position at Pride in London, and apologised unreservedly to the person with whom they were in conversation. Nevertheless, the legacy of this comment deeply hurt members of the lesbian community, including at Pride in London. We go on the record today to make explicit that Pride in London finds the remark abhorrent and not representative of our culture or values.

We are incredibly fortunate that our volunteer organisation is led and supported by LGBTQI+ women all year round. As the saying goes: “a day without lesbians is like a day without sunshine”, and we are fortunate to count among our volunteers many talented individuals who identify as lesbian, along with others from across the LGBT+ spectrum. Pride in London has been under new leadership since Spring 2021. One of our first actions was to implement a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate behaviour from anyone affiliated with Pride in London — and zero means zero. Any conduct akin to that which is discussed here is simply unacceptable. The leadership team at Pride in London have made significant changes to our volunteer experience, including the introduction of a new code of conduct, a suite of people policies, and processes supported by a new, qualified people team. 

Our values of Visibility, Unity, and Equality are front and centre of everything we are and will be doing. Every volunteer in the organisation will attend a new induction led by our new People team, reinforcing these core values, new policies, and processes.

There is still much to do before we can say we have achieved our stated aims. Pride must offer a safe, welcoming, respectful environment: no ifs, no buts. Staying true to our values, without exception, is the best way to enhance our offering to our community, and set an example others will want to follow. We are incredibly fortunate to be celebrating Pride’s 50th anniversary this year: connecting and engaging the world through joy and diversity is a powerful mission, one which we hope you and the team at DIVA will share with us.

In response to this open letter, DIVA publisher Linda Riley said:

“DIVA will now lift their blanket refusal to promote Pride in London events and continue to support a Pride we love and believe in during its 50th year of celebration. We felt it important that we took this initial stand against Pride in London, as we felt the core values of diversity and inclusion within our intersectional community were not being valued or respected.

In 2021 we withdrew our support of Pride in London, where we were the founding partners of the hugely successful DIVA Women’s Stage, when allegations of racism where made by a former board member. When Pride in London were further vilified and called out for lesbophobic abuse within their organisation, DIVA made a concerted effort behind the scenes to encourage Pride in London to investigate and issue an apology to LGBTQI women and non-binary people. We are delighted that this has finally been resolved and Pride in London have unreservedly apologise.

DIVA will now become more involved with the 50th year celebrations, which are for everyone in the LGBTQI community. We look forward to a celebration of Pride in London on 2 July, where we hope to once again march with pride and have a float celebrating LGBTQI women and non-binary people.”

In February 2022 Pride in London published a statement on their website, outlining “how Pride in London can support the work, activities and commitments of UK Black Pride”.

Look out for an exclusive interview with the new Pride in London executive director, Christopher Joell-Deshields, coming soon to our podcast, podDIVA.

DIVA magazine celebrates 28 years in print in 2022. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQI media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable. 

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