24th-28th August 2020 saw us celebrate our first Pride Week at ANS. The week was full of Pride-inspired events, like roundtables, quizzes and raffles. We even invited the LGBT Foundation to talk to us about the amazing work they do to support LGBT people. As part of Pride Week, Technical Analyst Apprentice, Jess, wanted to share some thoughts and own experience on Pride. Jess’ written a series of blogs to educate us more on Pride. The final one is all about Pride, take a look below.
Hi! And welcome back to my short series of blogs for Pride 2020 where I break down the basics of everything LGBT+.
In my last two blogs, I introduced sexuality and gender; including my personal journeys, as well as commonly used labels and what they mean. In this, the final blog of the series, I’m going to cover what LGBT+ pride is, why we need it, and how to create a safe environment for LGBT+ people at work.
Throughout these blogs I have used the term LGBT+ to refer to members of the LGBTQQIAAP+ community, as it is a term that most people have probably heard in their lives at some point. The full version of the term stands for the following:
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Agender, Pansexual and (+) everyone else who isn’t straight, isn’t cisgender, or both.
There are countless examples of early human civilisations celebrating people who weren’t straight or cis – many archaeological finds point to an abundance of same-sex relationships and gender non-conforming people in societies all over the world, including Ancient Greece and Rome, the Aztecs and Mayans, and Native Americans, to name a few.
The late 1960s in the US were rife with many social and political movements to improve the lives of many.
Born out of the Stonewall Inn riots in June 1969, the Gay Rights Movement of the 1970s started and quickly gained momentum.
Exactly one year after the riots, the Gay Liberation Front (an organisation created a day after the riot) organised three simultaneous marches for equal rights– one in New York, one in San Francisco, and one in Los Angeles to mark the anniversary. Within a few years, Gay Rights organisations were founded across the world and the fight for equal rights became global.
Since then, most major cities across the world hold a march for LGBT+ rights once a year in the summer in the form of a Pride parade.
Pride isn’t just a parade, it isn’t just a summer thing, and it certainly never goes away. Pride as a concept is feeling proud of who you are and what you represent – this is a constant in so many people’s lives and for those it isn’t, Pride celebrations are a way to help them.
Whilst in a few countries equal rights to marriage have been implemented in law, this doesn’t mean the fight for equal rights is over. Genders other than male and female are not legally recognised in any country, kids in school are currently not given any education regarding other genders apart from Male and Female, leaving young LGBT+ in the dark on how to be safe, and most importantly, many countries still carry the death sentence for LGBT+ people.
LGBT+ people are targeted every single day just for being themselves and loving who they love – no doubt you may have seen horrific events in the news such as the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, or even closer to home, where a lesbian couple in London were beaten to within an inch of their lives when they refused to kiss in front of homophobic hecklers.
No one should be discriminated against for their sexuality or gender, just as much as no one should be discriminated against for their skin colour, their religion, their disabilities, or anything else.
A great many people grow up in environments that are prevalent in homophobia and transphobia, which makes growing up as LGBT+ extremely difficult and oftentimes, impossible. As many as two thirds of all homeless say they were kicked onto the streets after coming out, or worse, being outed by homophobic or transphobic parents or relatives. As such, for many an LGBT+ person, their own homes aren’t even safe.
By being LGBT+, people are put at great risk of harm just by living their truth, and safe spaces are essential for a moment’s reprieve of fear for their lives.
A safe space for LGBT+ people is one that is free of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. It is a place where equal rights are encouraged, where discrimination of any kind is unacceptable, and where every person is treated with equal respect and dignity.
Some safe spaces are run by LGBT+ organisations or people, such as the Sidney St Café, run by the LGBT foundation. Others can be formed in places like schools, universities and companies, with after-school clubs, LGBT+ societies and diversity teams.
For many LGBT+ people, an accepting and safe workplace may be the first safe space they have ever had, so making this a reality in your company is of upmost importance.
I am proud to say that I work for a company where I feel safe living my truth. I came out as non-binary to a member of our People Operations team on my first day back after the new year in January 2020. Since then, I have received an abundance of support and encouragement, as well as help with telling my manager and colleagues. This is exactly how employers should be – not only accepting, but helpful, encouraging and great allies.
I asked two members of the board what they thought about the culture at ANS regarding being a safe space for LGBT+ people, and this is what they had to say.
For me being proud of who I am means I am proud of being queer and non-binary, proud that I can represent in spaces that traditionally have little representation. Not only that, but the inherent need and want for equal rights for LGBT+ people just like myself across the globe.
I am lucky enough to live in a country where equal rights to marriage is in law, and where it is feasible to live as a trans person. Unfortunately, hate crimes towards LGBT+ people are still rife within the country.
I can live proudly and out as queer, yet I cannot live fully and legally as non-binary, as it is a gender that is not recognised by law . Due to this, I do not have equal rights to marriage; when I get married, it will have to be as a female, unless legal gender recognition changes.
The pride celebrations for me are primarily an amazing show of people who are marching for equal rights and making themselves seen, heard and respected, and I love it for that. I really like all the organisations and companies that choose to walk in the parade every year to celebrate diversity and march for equal rights.
Pride is not just a celebration; it is a movement for the equal rights and opportunities for LGBT+ people across the globe. It is needed every day and everywhere, including the workplace.
To my colleagues: if you find yourself hearing a term and don’t understand it, I’m here to help! I’m happy to explain things for you!
I encourage anyone who has read this series of blogs to keep educating themselves and become greater allies every day. A resource I have found to be very beginner-friendly is The ABCs of LGBT+ by non-binary author and LGBT+ rights activist Ash Hardell.
Thoughts and opinions by Jess Outhwaite
For ANS, diversity and inclusion means providing equal opportunities for all, regardless of gender orientation or expression, race, age, sexual orientation, cultural and economic background, physical ability or neural diversity. Everyone at ANS has the ability to progress throughout the business, and we are very proud of the level of comfort our employees feel about being able to bring their true selves to work.