Black Queer Network Statement on Black Lives Matter London ON’s partnership with Pride London FestivalRelease Date:
There has been a lot of conversation and news within the past few days that affects our community. The Black Queer Network, while a relatively new group has not been invited to be part of these conversations but would still like to share our thoughts on recent developments. We hesitated at first because we know that like any community there are varying stances and opinions. However we realised that it is exactly moments like this where no one speaks out with their concerns that enables oppression to continue. A culture of silence is one that harms us all.
One of responsibilities of new community groups and organizations, is to listen to the words of our elders, those who have been doing the work for longer than we have and those in our community. It is one of the reasons that we created our survey to ensure we were not only speaking from our own personal experiences and from the stories we have heard over the years. It is also necessary to consult and do the work to connect with other groups who are already doing the work and have established themselves as inclusive and trustworthy.
We have heard over and over again in our survey results and in the conversations we have that Pride London Festival receives a failing grade in diversity and inclusivity as it relates to race in our community. We honour the experiences and the stories of our community. We stand with our LGBT2Q+ Indigenous and People of Colour family.
We were shocked and disappointed to learn of a partnership with the Black Lives Matter - London Ontario and Pride London and call on BLM to honour the work, the struggles and the experiences of those who have been fighting for so many years and instead support the LGBT2Q+ BIPOC community by ending their partnership with Pride London Festival. We urge BLM to actually engage with LGBT2Q+ BIPOC community, and make transparent the terms of their partnership with Pride London and if they have spoken to any other BIPOC LGBT2Q+ groups in London.
We urge Pride London Festival to stop positioning themselves in the false narrative of being inclusive and as a facilitator of diversity and conversations. To make public apologies that include examples of the very real harm they have caused and perpetuated and do the real work of anti-racism until there are no longer voices in our BIPOC community crying out in opposition to abuses and racism perpetrated by the board. We urge them to step down and step back from a conversation which has been taking place for years and acknowledge that in all of these conversations they have maintained a position that supports the LPS and attempting to shut down any BIPOC voice that speaks against them.
We urge our fellow BIPOC family who have recently been elected to the LPF board to no longer continue to enable the Festival's actions and to step down. We cannot continue to enable racist organizations any longer. We acknowledge that within the LGBT2Q+ BIPOC community that not all of us have the same opinions and stances on the BLM movement and calls for action, but remind everyone that we are a community united and if even only one member of our community is hurting, it is our responsibility to come together to ensure that everyone is safe.
All Black Lives Matter including LGBT2Q+ Black Lives. We must use our power and what privilege we have for the advancement of equality.
The raising of the flag is a symbolic and performative action and the controversy that has erupted signals only how difficult it will be to create tangible change. We believe this issue to be a distraction from very real problems that our community faces.
The Black Queer Network - London ON CollectiveDocument491.06 KB
Black Queer Network's Statement in Response to Pride London FestivalRelease Date:
We are incredibly disappointed by the harmful choices, languages and misrepresentation of the facts within the statement recently released by Pride London Festival. In the interests of transparency, we would like to clarify that BQN received three communications from a Kevin Evans who revealed himself to be also known as Stephen D'Amelio, a Pride London Board member on Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st July who wanted only to speak to a single individual via phone and would not communicate in any other form with us. Our last message to him requested clarification if he was contacting us as himself or as a pride board member and we did not receive a response. Other than that conversation we have had no official communications from Pride London Festival. We did not decline requests to hold communicative talks as we received no requests for communicative talks.
At this time we would also like to reiterate that the Black Queer Network has acted independent of all and other organizations and our media releases are our words and while we are grateful to other folks in our community who have shared and supported us, and to those who are elders in our community that we have consulted with in the broader LGBT2Q+ BIPOC community, we have taken the initiative to do this and written our own thoughts and observations.
If you read the PLF statement and shrugged to yourself thinking that you didn't expect any better. We ask you to sit for a moment and examine how you got to the point of not expecting any better and how a dismissal of behaviors and silence affect those who are under attack for simply speaking out and calling for a community to do better. If you found yourself supporting the PLF statement we challenge you to examine what community means to you and your participation in the silencing of voices within your own community.
We would like to once again point out the continued aggressions, silencing and abuses of power and privilege that are ongoing. We would like to remind everyone of the impact that dismissive, silencing, and attacking behaviors all have on those from marginalized communities who try to have their voices heard and assert their right to be part of community. We would like to remind everyone of the emotional burden and toll that happens when BIPOC voices are repeatedly dismissed, gaslit and attacked. There is a much larger perspective and conversation to be had regarding this statement but we are going to take the time to breathe and have a moment to recover and heal before we comment further.Document455.86 KB
Black Queer Network's Response to Black Lives Matter London Ontario's statement on cancellation of event partnership with Pride London FestivalRelease Date:
The past few days have been filled with a lot of conversations, both with community elders and internally as well as with Black Lives Matter London representatives.
We are in the middle of creating historic change. Of calling for an end to the systems of oppression and violence against Black communities. Of calling for awareness and recognition of personal biases and ways in which we are complicit in these systems. It is hard work. It is unending work. And it is work in which we are called upon to admit that while we may think we are allies, there are ways in which we might be actively doing harm.
Black Lives Matter London reached out to us after our statement. we also know that they reached out to other LGBT2Q+ BIPOC leaders and voices in our community. They have admitted that they entered into a partnership with Pride without taking the time to understand the relationship of the LGBT2Q+ BIPOC individuals and groups within London to the Pride London Festival (PLF). That they approached it with an outsider view, admitting they believed that Pride was the only LGBT2Q+ voice in the city. We were happy to Black Lives Matter London taking the first step and announcing that they will be cancelling the event partnership with PLF. We remain cautious and remind everyone that platforms and privilege should be used to support, not to take over and dominate a conversation.
As Black Lives Matter has not explained in their statement why we were calling for an end to partnership. We will. We are not calling for an end to conversations about anti-racism within the queer community. We are not calling for an end to conversations about the intersections of privilege and power. We are speaking out that LGBT2Q+ Black community is ALSO part of the Black community and elevating an organization with a history of oppression against us in pursuit of change for the wider Black community, not only harms us, but once again sends the message that we do not belong. We are speaking out that the partnership has not only endorsed but has provided a platform to encourage the ongoing problematic behavior of performative allyship, racism, misogyny, bullying and manipulation which are all commonplace within the PLF organization. We are speaking out about the incredible harm of an organization with has a track record of exclusion and oppression particularly towards the BIPOC community once again using their power to dominate the conversation.
We cannot have a just and equitable conversation when one of the biggest known perpetrators is not only holding power in the conversation, but also positioning themselves as above reproach. We are speaking out about how the partnership will enable the PLF to continue to silence LGBT2Q+ BIPOC voices when they criticize the organization and behaviors. In fact, the voices that have been silenced by Pride London Festival throughout the years were not acknowledged or even invited to the table. We cannot "Continue the Conversation" when the conversation has for years been started but continuously silenced by Pride London Festival. We are speaking out so that those who were in the position of BLM, looking at our community from the outside and not doing the work to see beyond those that hold all the power can know that we will not stand silently by anymore. We are speaking up and saying that you cannot speak for our community without involving our community.
We call for organizations, businesses, groups, individuals and allies to reconsider what allyship means. To look beyond an organization that by virtue of having a recognizable name, has positioned themselves to hold great power in our community. A power that has been used to silence others in our community. We call for allies to recognize that the LGBT2Q+ community does not begin and end with Pride London Festival. We call for work to be done to make visible the many diverse community groups that have been relegated to the shadow of Pride London Festival or that Pride London Festival has used their power to erase from the narrative. We call for allies to support the LGBT2Q+ community NOT just a festival once a year. That support for the LGBT2Q+ goes beyond a festival.
We call on our fellow LGBT2Q+ BIPOC community, to acknowledge the problems that are taking place within the Queer community once more. We know that it has been tiring. We know that many have chosen to simply leave the city. We know that many have chosen to disengage, believing that there would be no space for them. We know that many have chosen to sit quietly by as a way to survive and retain a sense of community. We recognize that there are members of the LGBT2Q+ BIPOC community who are part of Pride London who many not agree with us and we challenge those to recognize the intersections of privilege in their viewpoints and that profiting off of the power and privilege gained by remaining agreeable to PLF actions, is at the expense of an entire community.
We call on those in the LGBT2Q+ community, to support groups that are not Pride London Festival, to recognize that we are more than a once a year festival. To recognize there is incredible diversity within our community that needs to be respected, supported and included. To recognize that speaking out about the problems in our community means that we retain hope that there can be a BETTER version of our community. That we are calling on everyone to support and work for a shift in our thinking. To stop before you silence voices that are hurting and instead approach from a place of listening and being open to change.
We have given the PLF too much power for too long. It is time we stop holding PLF up as the sole voice and representative of our community. It is time we support the work of others who are inclusive, who are doing the real, hard work that is needed. It is time we come truly together as a community and work in solidarity.
Black Queer Network - London OntarioDocument461.12 KB
Transparency Notice: Excessive Harassment by Kevin Evans also known as Stephen D'Amelio, a Pride London Festival Board MemberRelease Date:
In the interests of transparency, please note that Black Queer Network has removed Kevin Evans/Stephen D'Amelio from able to post on our page. We did not do this lightly. Since our last post he has been harassing commenters on the page. Black Queer Network will not allow racism, misogyny, abelism, harassment or intimidation of our community. We are saddened even more when it comes from someone who is part of our community. Privilege is intersectional, we can still hold the privilege of our gender presentation, our social location, our abilities, and more while still being discriminated against because of our race. He has been asked to end his harassment and respect the space and refused. The person he was harassing asked him to stop and he persisted. In no world is this acceptable. It has come to our attention that he has been pressuring individuals to share their phone numbers and have private conversations against their will. We encourage you to reach out if you need support, we also encourage you to report your experiences on the community form to add this to the number of experiences members of our community have encountered from the PLF if you feel comfortable doing so. Thank you to all of you who messaged us letting us know what was happening.