Since GayMafiaWatch came out on to the scene nearly a year ago we have been appealing to the community to share their concerns in regards to the way the pink pound changes hands. We were astounded by the number of emails regarding the conduct of Stonewall – the gay rights lobby group on a number of issues, this expose on the organisation’s ‘Bullying Tactics’ is the first of several articles focusing on Stonewall.
It makes sense to begin with the argument from one of Stonewall’s most vocal and famous critics, gay rights activist and founder of OutRage! Peter Tatchell who has attempted to decode Stonewall’s tactics. “Stonewall styles itself as “the” lesbian and gay lobbying group – not “a” lesbian and gay lobbying group but “the” lesbian and gay lobbying group. That smacks of arrogance and empire building. It has more than a whiff of an attempt to monopolise the whole agenda and every gain for themselves.”
“Although we have different tactics and aims to Stonewall, OutRage! has always tried to work with them and sought to acknowledge their role and contribution. That generosity has often not been reciprocated. Stonewall frequently comes across as attempting to claim the credit for everything that’s ever been achieved by the gay community. They tend not to acknowledge other groups. It is not just OutRage! that gets ignored. The contribution of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, GALOP, Lesbian & Gay Employment Rights and many other organisations are never acknowledged.”
This stern accusation is echoed by members of the Education for All Coalition, a network of organisations formed in 2004 to develop and implement a Great Britain-wide action plan to address Homophobic Bullying. You can see a full list of apparent members on the Education for All website . But don’t expect to find much more than that. You’d expect to after noticing on the donations page a very far out estimation that the website costs them £500 just to keep running for a MONTH. Since it was launched (as a sub domain of Stonewall’s main site, it hasn’t even got a dedicated web address) there is yet to be any information regarding the next coalition meeting – the only direct way anyone outside the Stonewall office can play an active part in the decision making process. Tatchell puts this down to Stonewall being “a self-selected organisation that no ordinary lesbian or gay person can join”. Attempts to gain any details by listed coalition members have been falling on deaf ears, yet Stonewall continues to plead for funds in the public arena and boast in their press releases about the figure raised.
One thing you do notice on the Education for All website is the prominence of the ‘Donate’ button on every page. A quick tap of the mouse whisks you to an external site, where you are told “Thank you for choosing to make a donation to Stonewall Ltd.” Hold on a moment…
Surely this vast ‘coalition’ of many diverse groups must have mutually agreed that Stonewall will be the sole benefactor in fundraising for Homophobic Bullying in their name. Not true. Infact many of these groups and organisations have not received a single penny from Stonewall, despite a suggestion the begging bowl is for a greater cause than the same old one Stonewall have been stumbling about collecting small change with since 1989. Some of these organisations have since folded entirely, despite being at the forefront of delivering groundbreaking work to beat Homophobic Bullying. The Young People’s Peer Support Project in Manchester was one such project. Rachel, a former volunteer at the Peer Support Project for over 7 years emailed GayMafiaWatch after our recent appeal for information. “I took part in a Stonewall Equality Walk to raise money for Education for All, I was proud to support the campaigning work of Stonewall and had collected many sponsors which I thought at the time would go to support Homophobic Bullying initiatives like the one I was part of back home in Manchester. I was utterly sickened when I found out a few months later that the project had closed down as it could not get basic core funding to survive, I thought we joined Education for All so we wouldn’t have to watch our work go down the pan and other people come in and take the credit”.
One former board member of the Consortium of LGBT Organisations spoke to GayMafiaWatch but did not want to be named. “This kind of domination by groups like Stonewall is part of the reason the Consortium was established” There are many small projects going on all over the country that are working on eradicating bullying but don’t have the same big budget to work with that Stonewall has, to make things worse Stonewall is now claiming to be the champion in this field and it’s not on.” He continued, “Stonewall is acting parasitically, a leech on the face of the gay community and the unsung, and often unfunded groups of people who work just as hard as Stonewall but receive considerably less recognition.”
As a result of Stonewall’s 2008 Equality Dinner at the luxurious Dorchester Hotel in Central London (where the cheapest single room costs £395 per night!) sponsored by international financial giant UBS for the third year running, 500 exclusive guests gathered including former Prime Mister Tony Blair, Gandalf – Sir Ian McKellen, Brian Paddick and Jamie Oliver, and over £300,000 was raised. A Statement from Stonewall followed; “All funds raised will go towards Stonewall campaigns such as Education for All, tackling homophobic bullying from Britain’s schools.”. Something Stonewall has repeatibly claimed since 2004, and something which is not much more than a lie. This money does not filter down to work going on in schools, or at the least Stonewall continue to provide vague snippets of information on how this money is spent.
Even if Stonewall miraculously succeeds in convincing the gay community that the money it continues to raise on behalf of leading a united front against homophobic bullying in schools it cannot deny the sheer waste of investment by companies such as UBS by sponsoring it’s lavish events that it insists on holding. Imagine how many more small groups and organisations could continue their work all over the country, not just in London and actually based in schools with real young people on a daily basis if those funds were diverted to them instead.
Now who’s the bully in the classroom?