Eighties icon Sinitta claims ‘shocking’ Pride in London made her feel like a ‘pawn’

Josh Milton
·3-min read

Singer Sinitta has said Pride in London made her feel like a “pawn” at times and alleged that “derogatory things” were said during meetings, PinkNews can reveal.

Pride in London has faced a tense reckoning amid a volley of resignations, where former members have described a culture of racism at the very top of the non-profit.

The 1980s queer icon reflected on her time as a years-long staple of the festival during a panel discussion held Monday evening (22 March) on social-networking app Clubhouse.

The talk, on the future of Pride in London in the wake of the organisation’s two co-chairs stepping down, featured Sinitta alongside former Pride volunteers, community leaders, activists, other Pride organisers and queer media chiefs.

“I got to be part of Pride in London for many years,” Sinitta explained to the other panellists, “but I wonder now if I was maybe a tool or pawn in some sort of situation because my final Pride experience was half-happy and half-sad.”

The “So Macho” hitmaker claimed that during a meeting leading up to the capital’s Pride, she heard “derogatory things” said.

In one moment that left Sinitta stunned, a member allegedly said: “We don’t want the hairy lesbians muscling in on it, do we?”

“I was shocked,” the singer recalled, “because you think, ‘Wait a minute, this is a meeting about Pride, the upcoming Pride performances, how can that be anyone’s opinion or stance?’

“I wish I overreacted more at the time because you sort of think they’ve got to be joking because it was a white gay man saying that. It never occurred to me that a white gay man could be against lesbians.”

Sinitta claimed that that the individual sought to shrug off her shock over his comment by stressing it was a “joke”. “This is our thing,” he responded, she said.

Pride in London ‘excluded’ Sinitta from main stage following her inclusive performance, she claims

Sinitta also suggested that, to some organisers, the main Trafalgar Square stage is the “gay male stage”. “It’s not really meant to be like that, but it is like that,” she alleged those attending the meeting said.

And when the dancer said she wanted to perform on the once DIVA magazine-sponsored Women’s Stage in Leicester Square, she was met with sneers.

“‘If you want to do that,'” Sinitta described of the members’ reaction. “But it was almost like, ‘If you insist, you don’t have to do it and we don’t want you to do it.'”

Sinitta performs at the World Area during Pride in London 2019 on July 06, 2019 in London, England
Sinitta performs at the World Area during Pride in London 2019 on July 06, 2019 in London, England. (Kate McShane/Getty Images for Pride in London)

She added that she became “unpopular” after she performed “Shine With Pride” on the main stage with Black lesbian women and trans youth. “I wanted to make my performance as inclusive as possible,” she said.

“The following year, I was excluded from the main stage because it was felt that people didn’t want to see my people, my Black lesbians, my transgender teenagers and hear my messages.

“I was really, really hurt but again [I] just kind of sucked it up.”

The 52-year-old added that she had “overheard conversations to have things said to me that express the exact desire to not have them on the platform”.

“I’ve always felt at my safest and most accepted in the gay scene,” the songwriter continued, “so I was genuinely shocked to hear some of the things that I heard.

“Because of who I heard it from, who would I turn to?”

She later reflected on her continued performances at the parade, noting that she did so to keep her “foot in the door so I can keep opening my platform to everyone else.

“But it was never at any time in support of the prejudice that I was witnessing and had learned about,” she said.

PinkNews contacted Pride in London for comment.