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    Bring out the rainbow flags and join us to celebrate love, diversity, and equality this Pride Month!
    🌈

    Inspired by the Stonewall Riots in 1969 New York, June has since become a month-long celebration to honour the LGBTQIA+ community, commemorate the sacrifices made for LGBTQIA+ rights and to recognise the work that still needs to be done in the fight for equality.

    What does Pride mean to us?

    We’re committed to creating an inclusive environment where the entire LGBTQIA+ community is free to be themselves and live a prejudice-free life – not just during the month of June, but all year round. That’s why we’re proud to use our voice during Pride Month to raise awareness of the struggles faced by the LGBTQIA+ community, and to celebrate the accomplishments of LGBTQIA+ people throughout history.

    But we couldn’t define what pride month means to us without the help of our LGBTQIA+ Inclusion & Diversity Group, so we spoke to Nic, K T, Ashley, Jayce, Harley and Sam to find out why they think it’s important that we celebrate Pride…

    Nic (He/Him), Director of Brand Marketing:

    “Pride Month brings visibility to the LGBTQ+ community and raises awareness about its history, struggles, and accomplishments. It encourages us to take pride in our own LGBTQ+ identities and encourages a sense of self-acceptance and empowerment. It also serves as a platform for advocacy and activism, providing an opportunity to raise important issues, challenge discrimination, and advocate for change!”

    K T (They/Them), Postroom Assistant:

    “Pride is more than who you choose to love, it’s about who you are as a person. It’s about acceptance, visibility and defence, remembrance of those we lost and those that carry on the legacy and a celebration of how far we have come from being seen as sordid criminals to respected members of society. Illuminating the struggles of those still marginalised around the word who are unable to celebrate who they are.”

    Ashley (She/Her), Senior QA Engineer:

    “Pride Month is a fantastic time for everyone to express themselves and really be loud about who they are, while showing off the colours of their personality. I feel like it’s important for us to celebrate as we are lucky to live in a country where we can do so - although there are still changes that we would like to see in the UK.

    Jayce (They/Them), Void Account Manager:

    “Pride started as a peaceful protest for change, for acceptance. We still don't have the same rights as non-LGBTQIA+ individuals, so I believe pride is still incredibly important to show the world we will always strive for equality amongst all.

    Harley (They/Them), Senior Revenue Protection Analyst:

    I think it’s now more important than ever. I think a lot of people forget that ‘pride’ by definition, is the opposite of ‘shame’. Pride isn’t about shoving your gender identity and/or sexual orientation in someone’s face, it’s about shaking off the shame that so often gets forced upon us by a society that sees and treats us as “other”. There are so many different identities within the queer community – Pride is a great example of how much people can achieve when we focus on what we have in common instead of what we don’t. It’s a safe time to stand up and say: “This is me; I exist, and I will not shrink myself for your comfort.”

    Sam (He/Him), Void Account Manager:

    “It is still illegal to be LGBTQ+ in 64 UN member states. While we have made progress, homophobia and transphobia is still present in our lives and likely will be for a long time. Pride is a time to celebrate ourselves and how far we have come, but also to remember how far we have to go.”

    Have you been inspired by a moment in history that has helped shape the LGBTQIA+ community into what it is today, since the first Pride in 1970?

    Nic:
    “The Marriage Equality successes – pivotal court cases and legal victories – from the 2000’s-2010’s led to significant progress in achieving marriage equality. These wins challenged societal norms, advocated equal rights, and fostered visibility and acceptance. I was fortunate enough to benefit from these achievements when I married my husband in 2019, ensuring we have the same legal rights and protections as opposite-sex couples. Plus, helping to send the powerful message of social acceptance and inclusion.

    K T:
    “I remember Marriage Equality was passed in the UK as I was just coming into my adulthood in 2013/14. I was told that I wouldn’t have an easy time of being gay in the future and this was one of the main arguments used against me growing up. In 2015 I had the pleasure of watching one of my best friends be the first to be wed in Tennessee, USA to his husband - knocking all my internal grievances about myself out of the park. There I saw that my future didn’t have to be as difficult as they had told me growing up.

    It is our right, not our privilege to get married and we will not forget what it took to get here.”

    Ashley:
    “There are so many to choose from, but I think the creation of the first Pride Flag in 1978 played an important role in the development of the LGBTQIA+ community. While there have since been alterations to the Flag to make it a symbol that is more inclusive of everyone, the initial flag gave the Pride movement a symbol shared by all the members that would be understood for years to come. The Flag is also something that could be understood if you knew what it represented, even if you didn’t speak the same language as the person holding it.

    Harley:
    “I think for me, it’s less a single moment and more an accumulation of them. Throughout my lifetime, I’ve witnessed so many significant changes in societal views, legislation etc - but it’s quite bittersweet. On the one hand, drag has become a pretty mainstream thing; however, with that, has come a lot more backlash. Because almost always only adults felt safe (hah) enough to come out as gay, trans, etc., there’s this assumption that anything queer, specifically only applies to adults – which I think feeds this incorrect idea that anything LGTBQIA+ related is inappropriate for children.”

    Jayce:
    “The repeal of Section 28 of local government act in 2003 allowing for local authorities to promote LGBTQIA+ relationships. This was initially enacted in 1988, and being revoked allows for new generations to have support and openness about their identities.”

    Sam:
    “While rather recent, same-sex marriage being legalised in the UK in 2013 is one I remember well. I was still quite young at the time, and it felt like a massive change in the right direction.”

    England and Wales made history with the 2021 census counting trans and non-binary people for the first time, as well as sexuality, what do changes in legislation like this mean to you and/or the LGBTQIA+ community?

    K T:
    “It means that I am seen as a valid human being. It means my friends and those around me can validate their lives. It shows that denying existences doesn’t make us go away. We are not a trend; we have always been here and always will be. It means to me that more people have the courage to explore and declare who they are; that can only be a good thing.”

    Jayce:
    “It shows progress. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless that will help future generations to feel safe and included. It also demonstrates how many of us there are across the UK, which is comforting to know we are never alone - no matter how hard that can be to believe sometimes.”

    Sam:
    “I think this is progress, although there is still a way to go. Legislation like this is important, but there are other changes to be made. For example, non-binary genders are still not recognised in UK law.”

    Harley:
    “I find it interesting. In some ways, it’s very good. On the other hand, it comes off the back of UK government blocking legislation that would make the lives of trans people so much easier. As well as deciding in 2018 that having a third option for legal gender (which not only would help non-binary people, but also potentially intersex people), was essentially “too much effort”.”

    Have you noticed a change in LGBTQ+ inclusivity in your lifetime, and if so, what has changed, or would you like to see change?

    Nic:
    “While progress has been made in terms of legal rights and social acceptance in many parts of the world, it's important to acknowledge that significant challenges still exist. Efforts toward education, awareness, policy changes, and promoting inclusivity and acceptance are essential for addressing these challenges and creating a more equitable and supportive society for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

    Sam:
    “100%. While homophobia and transphobia definitely haven't gone anywhere, it's not as socially acceptable to be openly homophobic as it was, say 10 years ago. When I was in primary and secondary school the word gay was a common insult - now, while not the case everywhere, it seems that more people are accepting of different sexualities.”

    K T:
    “I find language fascinating. The way we use our words and what words we use have a huge impact on both us and those around us. I didn’t know the word non-binary existed 10 years ago, nor that demisexuality was a thing, but now those feelings have a name and are used widely. I believe the more we are able to describe ourselves and authentically present who we are to the world, the stronger our society becomes and those who come after us will feel more included in the bigger picture.”

    Harley:
    I have, and unfortunately not always in the continual upward trajectory I would like to see - especially with regards to gender identities. There’s a lot of misinformation that goes around and very little critical thought or source-checking. It saddens me that despite numerous professionals – medical, psychological specialists all agree that trans people transitioning is the best and healthiest thing for them. For me personally, I’m just absolutely baffled by the concept of gender entirely. I don’t know what it feels like to be a man or a woman in the way most people seem to.

    Ashley:
    “Unfortunately, there are lots of examples of very negative attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ inclusivity in various countries that we see almost every day through social media. Although I don’t have any first-hand experience of this, I would like to see this change for future generations.”

    Jayce:
    “Massively so! I came out prior to same sex marriage being legal in the UK and this meant I faced a lot of discrimination from a very young age. Slurs and comments from my peers, harassment and bullying from classmates (and even teachers occasionally). It meant that I got to see the changes happen for the younger generations though, and I had the opportunity to educate others who asked questions out of pure curiosity.

    I would love to see further change and acceptance around the UK, as discrimination is still rampant - however especially for the trans community.”

    Why are you proud to be part of the LGBTQIA+ community?

    Nic:
    “Many LGBTQ+ individuals have faced and continue to face various forms of adversity. I feel proud of my LGBTQ+ identity because it represents resilience and the ability to navigate and rise above obstacles. It’s also incredibly diverse – it’s important for me to celebrate this rich diversity and recognize the beauty and strength that comes from it.”

    K T:
    “All my life I’ve been subjected to a heteronormative lifestyle which didn’t accept me - I was told that I just needed to meet the right man, that I wouldn’t be able to get married and have a family. Being part of the LGBTQ+ community has helped me see that I am able to do all the things that my heterosexual counterparts can. It has normalised the way I not only see myself but, also the way I live my life.”

    Ashley:
    “Everyone I have spoken to in the community has not only been supportive of myself, but of so many others. I instantly feel accepted whenever I interact with members of the LGBTQIA+ community. While I am proud to be a part of such an open minded and supportive group, I am also proud of the interactions we have outside of the community in opening a dialogue to show that we just want to exist and express ourselves in a way that won’t hurt them.

    Jayce:
    “Because we are a strong community forged through discrimination and oppression, yet we continue to show unyielding love and support for one another.”

    Harley:
    “This is a difficult question. I still struggle sometimes with being proud of who and what I am. Deep down I still wrestle with some resentment that I couldn’t just have the comparatively ‘easy’ life of a cis-straight person*. I’m so torn between wanting to just fly under the radar for ease and safety, but then I also feel responsible for trying to make changes, ultimately being kind to myself and just letting myself take up the space I deserve to take, that so many take for granted.

    *(I’d like to disclaimer this that I’m not saying all cis-straight people have an easy life, just that it is, generally speaking, comparatively easier).

    Sam:
    “I have never felt more able to truly be myself than when I have been among my other peers in the community. They have welcomed me and encouraged me to be myself.”

    ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🖤🤎🤍

    Thank you for joining us to learn more about what Pride means to us. Together we can create a world where love knows no boundaries – love is love!
    Last edited by Rebecca; 23-06-23 at 15:23.
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