pride in london retract poster series focusing on straight people
What could be more empowering than a poster celebrating a straight person's perception of gay pride? Oh right, anything.
Pride 2017 has almost arrived in London. With just 10 days to go before the world-renowned parade, rainbows now adorn tube logos, vodka bottles, bus stops and shop fronts, as the capital technicolours itself into a halcyon of sexual fluidity in the name of diversity and celebration (read: capitalism). To many, this will probably have gone unnoticed, thanks in part due to London's existing stature as a city of acceptance and tolerance (not to mention the fact brands have long-since cottoned on to the power of the pink pound, and plastered same-sex couples across mortgage-advisory billboards and Weetabix ads for some years now). But to London's gay community itself, something was amiss about this year's Pride in London poster campaign.
Asking Londoners, both LGBTQ and normy, to submit messages of love and empowerment in the run up to Pride, the Love Happens Here poster campaign was intended to present a collective voice of support. A nice idea guys, just make sure there's a breadth of gay and transgender voices, a diverse mix of ethnicities and religions, and not put the focus on straight people, yeah?
So, what have we got? "I'm a straight man with gay pride!" says one. "Befriend a gay person and win a prize. Friendship!" says another. Ok then. Validate your sense of self-worth after years of confusion and doubt with the knowledge that a straight man doesn't seem to care about your sexuality, and might even seek out your friendship, simply out of the goodness of his own heart!
After a slew of negative attention and pithy one-liners were thrown their way on social media, Pride in London issued a statement, in which they apologise for the tone-deaf campaign: "It is clear we misjudged the content of some of the messages in this poster series, undermining the individuality, importance, and dignity of the LGBT+ community. This was never our intention, and we are genuinely sorry to have played any part in something that appears to devalue our own community, and have removed these four images from our campaign."
Let's hope next year's campaign puts the emphasis back on the strength of the incredible LGBTQ Londoners who make the city so special, and not the guy who thinks hanging out with gay people makes him "more attractive by association".
Text Ryan White