13 June 2023
Celebrating Pride at work and at home
This month is Pride month, and across the world, people will be celebrating, commemorating, and holding events to stand in support of LGBTQ+ people everywhere.
Two Anchor colleagues, Henry Fairnington, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Roger Mitchell, Rainbow Network Co-chair, discuss the importance of Pride month and how they’re celebrating at work and at home this year.
When Anchor is involved in marking so many events this year, why should we feel the need to support Pride?
Roger: Well, obviously, Pride is very important, but especially for an organisation that’s so diverse in terms of its colleagues and residents, it’s important to see that large scale support.
Henry: It's also important that wider communities see acceptance and positive talk about the LGBTQ+ community. Several big businesses like Target and Bud Light have dropped their ‘support’ when faced with backlash and when supporting the community no longer serves them. Anchor needs to be a steady and courageous voice in the conversation. We’re at a point, especially for the trans community currently, where people have got to be explicit in their support because being implicit isn’t enough.
Roger: There are also residents and people who may not have seen that support so visibly in their lives, but suddenly they’ll see our activity pack, their peers speaking in coffee mornings, and our visibility on social media. From an organisational level, it’s less a matter of supporting Pride and more that Anchor is clearly supporting the people in the community.
Henry: From a practical level too, supporting Pride means supporting diverse perspectives. People from different backgrounds with different life experiences are valuable in an environment where working together to help people is key. If you say that you want to help everyone but only if they’re like you, then that support means nothing.
Roger: Absolutely. So overall, Anchor as an organisation marking Pride shows people that they’re not alone and that the organisation advocates for us. It also acknowledges widely that LGBTQ+ people are here, we’ve always been here, and we’re not going away.
More personally, why have you chosen to bring support for Pride into work, rather than celebrate it privately?
Roger: It sounds a bit blunt, but someone needs to! Pride started as a protest and morphed into a celebration, but we can’t afford not to be visible, and we can’t afford to stop protesting. I bring Pride into work because it needs to be there. I don’t stop being a part of the LGBTQ+ community just because I’m at work, so I’ll continue to talk about it.
Henry: I think it’s also not so much about why we’re bringing it into work, but more why do people want to leave it out? The current climate is creating a really hostile place for us in terms of rights being removed, identities becoming ‘debates’, and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric in the media. Bringing Pride into work can offer a level of safety that I don’t have in my daily life. Especially with Anchor, I have guidance and policies that ensure I’m protected. As you said, being LGBTQ+ is a part of me, and all of me works here. People don’t feel that they need to take their wedding rings off because it’s not ‘relevant’ to their work – why should I censor my life?
Roger: Yes, why should anyone have to hide a part of them in order to be deemed acceptable? It takes everyone to talk about diversity in different strands of their lives to bring some vibrancy and true inclusion to work.
What is the importance of having a community within the workplace for you?
Roger: Just the fact that we have EDI networks is fantastic. Where there isn’t a Rainbow Network, or similar things for other communities, it’s stifling. I didn’t have a network in my previous job, so I jumped at the chance to join the Rainbow Network at Anchor. Having these safe queer spaces aren’t the norm, so I think it’s great that we do have them.
Henry: And that’s it, isn’t it? The people in networks need and want the community in the workplace, so that in itself makes it important. It’s a safe space for learning, for supporting other people, and just for diversifying the people you know. We also have a great culture here in that people feel able to call out behaviour and have some quite hard and honest conversations. Having a network or a community to provide context for that just enriches all of our experiences.
Roger: More privately, too, where we hear sentiments like “I’m fine with gay people, but don’t throw it in my face,” having a comfortable space to be ourselves is really refreshing. In the same way that you make friends with like-minded people, it’s reassuring to know that there’s a group of people who get it, at least to an extent.
Henry: And like we’ve said before, it’s important within the workplace specifically because it shouldn’t have to be something that we feel the need to hide. Some people suggest that having networks focuses on our differences and separates us more, but if it’s wanted and if people feel comfortable, we need to harness that and question why not rather than why.
How are you celebrating Pride Month?
Roger: Well, I’m getting involved in Anchor activity. My celebration is in passing information on. I’m a mine of queer trivia and queer history, so Pride Month is a time that I can revel in sharing that knowledge. For someone outside of the community, I don’t think it’s something that’s readily and authentically available, so that’s how I’m celebrating.
Henry: For me, it being Pride month doesn’t really change things, to be honest. I just get a bit less scared to be brighter and I can be me more intensely! Taking up space, feeling happy, knowing I’m alive and seeing other queer people living their lives is a celebration in itself.
Roger: We'll also be going to Leeds Pride in all our nautical glory in August, which proves the point- it's not just in June that all the rainbows need to be turned on for, it’s all year round, and even when the going gets tough.
Henry: Absolutely. Pride Month is a chance to be united and unapologetic in supporting the LGBTQ+ community, but the moment that it’s dropped because it’s not spotlit, the silence is deafening. The actions don’t have to be big and glittery and musical all the time like they do with Pride Month, but they do have to be there.
Henry Fairnington is Anchor's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer, and Roger Mitchell is a Senior Business Analyst at Anchor and Rainbow Network Co-chair
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