30 Jun, 2023

We are proud to support Pride Month

Although we may seemingly have come a long way forward with LGBTQ+ rights in the UK, sadly this is not the reality across the globe.  Our London based colleague Paul Keily-Cracknell, Technical Support Analyst, shares his personal story which highlights the continued need to raise awareness and reduce discrimination.

A personal reflection

It takes a lot to stand up and be visible but that’s part of Pride Month: being Proud, Present and Visible and so this is me doing that, and it scares me! The younger version of myself would have never ever considered doing this because I was afraid to be who I am for fear of being an outcast, for suffering verbal abuse, being physically attacked or worse.

I know it seems like LGBTQ+ people and issues are everywhere in the news and in the rainbow logos of companies (including ours) but trust me when I say it doesn’t magically mean that everything is ok.  Pride Month happens once per year, however, for people like myself, it’s a lifetime. For example, I still can’t travel to every country in the world with my husband for fear of being imprisoned, tortured, or killed. I can’t walk down the street holding hands for fear of verbal or physical abuse. 

It surprises people to hear that LGBTQ+ people don’t have this big “coming out” and it’s all done and dusted. The movies, TV, the news aren’t very accurate in their portrayal. Every time we meet someone new, every new job we go to, we have to decide whether we can be open about who we are and for some jobs, that starts with the application form. We must go through the fear of whether we will again suffer abuse for being ourselves and decide if it is a risk we want to take. 

Set all this against the backdrop that in the year 2021/22 hate crimes based on sexual orientation rose by 41% . Crimes against people who identify as transgender rose by 56%*. It’s easy to see why there is still a need for Pride events and the support of family, friends, colleagues, the companies we work for.

Life for an LGBTQ+ person can be one of anxiety over whether they could be verbally or physically abused for being who they are, facing the possibility of being abandoned by their families and friends and worrying they may never be successful in their career because of discrimination. So when people say that it’s a choice or “trendy” to be LGBTQ+, I can definitely say I would struggle to choose that if given a choice.

I’m happy to say in my time at RiverStone I haven’t seen any abuse or discrimination and despite initial worries about whether to bring my husband along to the Christmas party and be visible to everyone I have had nothing but positive experiences. This is especially heightened for me, as he loves going to them and has only good things to say about any of my colleagues that he has met.

For you, my colleagues and friends, I say two simple words …… thank you.

* Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hate-crime-england-and-wales-2021-to-2022/hate-crime-england-and-wales-2021-to-2022

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