Former Pride in London staffer who resigned over inaction on ‘racism’ says ‘nothing’s changed’

former pride in London communications director Rhammel Afflick

One year after he resigned over inaction on “racism”, former Pride in London communications director Rhammel Afflick has claimed that little has changed.

At the time of his resignation in February, 2021, Afflick was Pride in London’s most senior Black staffer, and he had volunteered with the organisation for seven years.

He said that leadership did not seem willing to take decisive action to make Pride in London more inclusive of people of colour, and added that he had  “personally witnessed” the charity’s “insistence on ignoring Black voices”.

Afflick’s resignation prompted an exodus of volunteers and the entirety of Pride in London’s community advisory board quit in protest against the “widespread hostility” towards Black and brown volunteers.

Sadly one year on, as Pride in London’s 50th anniversary approaches, Afflick believes little has changed.

Speaking to MyLondon, he said: “Now that it’s been almost a year since I resigned, I just wonder what little we have to show for that, and that is really sad to think about.

“There is no evidence I’ve seen to suggest that anything is different. Many people in the community remain disappointed.”

During his time with Pride in London, Afflick coordinated the release of a statement on the death of George Floyd in 2020, in which the organisation said it was committed to being anti-racist.

But Afflick said: “Just saying we want to see more people of colour in Pride in London as a statement on its own means nothing, and I think some members of the LGBT+ community and those passionate about the Pride movement can see the difference and the nuance between throwing out a few platitudes and actual action.”

He continued: “We had a wealth of experience and knowledge from communities that hadn’t been represented in the organisation before and what were we doing with it other than turning a blind eye or not being as transparent as we need to be? That was worse to me than not having them involved at all.

“There was a false premise of inclusivity and people were essentially wasting their time in trying to enact change.”

Pride in London received further backlash last month, when it announced its in-person return on 2 July, 2022, in “partnership” with UK Black Pride, “to jointly celebrate the diversity of the LGBT+ community and the story of Pride, together”.

However, UK Black Pride swiftly denied such a collaboration, saying in a statement: “We are definitely not collaborating with or in partnership with Pride in London… [UK Black Pride founder] Lady Phyll has given her personal and private advice to [Pride in London executive director Christopher Joell-Deshields] as he works to redress the entrenched issues within Pride in London, and at no time have UK Black Pride and Pride in London held talks about working together.”

The action that Afflick, now a trustee for Bi Pride UK, is calling for includes changes to the structure and governance of Pride in London to allow a wider range of voices to be heard, greater empowerment of volunteers, especially better safeguarding for trans folk and people of colour, and a more a diverse leadership team.

He added: “It’s a shame that we have our 50th anniversary of Pride in the UK coming up but it’s marred by the fact that all these years later we aren’t as inclusive as we could be.”

Pride in London’s director of communications, and Afflick’s successor, told MyLondon: “Needless to say the past year has seen major changes here at Pride in London, and the organisation that my predecessor departed is not the organisation that exists today.

“Pride in London has been working hard this year to remedy the issues highlighted in the allegations that your piece will explore, and has taken demonstrable and tangible steps to address them. Lessons have been learned, and meaningful action continues to be taken.”

PinkNews has approached Pride in London for comment.