Pride is so much more than just rainbows and parades – it’s about authenticity and courage!
It’s PRIDE Month!
The city of London, and cities all around the world, are glowing in fabulous rainbow glory!
There has been a seismic shift in LGBTQ+ representation in the media – GLAAD reported that 2017 was “the best year ever for LGBTQ characters on television”and 2018 has continued to provide a platform for LGBTQ+ people and characters to flourish – Rupaul’s Drag Race entered its 10thseason, Netflix’s Queer Eye has exploded in make-over madness, and there are loads of LGBTQ+ teen characters in shows aimed at the young people.
And while the world celebrates the courage of the men and women… and drag queens… who fought back in the Stonewall Riots in July 1969, it’s a shame to think that half of LGBTQ+ workers are still closeted at work.
It’s so disheartening that other wonderful LGBTQ+ people are having to put on an act, as well as their suits, when they go to work.
When I first started working as a high-school teacher, I didn’t let my pride flag fly. I went to work every day a little bit nervous – I couldn’t really talk about what I had done on the weekend or who I had hung out with, so when asked how my weekend was, I would meekly answer, “Fine, thanks” and leave it at that. I spent every day editing and producing myself, making sure the person I was “being” matched what I thought my colleagues wanted. Needless to say, I wasn’t very happy and saw my world of work as a “necessity” not a place to thrive.
The turning point came when a member of the senior leadership team took me aside on a staff social to say, “What you bring to this school is really unique and special. Don’t be afraid. You’ll be fine.”
I remember that moment so vividly because as a young employee, someone who I saw as so important taking time to make me feel important was tremendously empowering.
From that day forward, I let my guard down and let people in. I started wearing more colour (literally and metaphorically) – I shared more of myself with my colleagues, I enjoyed coming to work, and as a result, my teaching and my work got so much more authentic and downright better!
So… This Pride:
Managers and senior leaders out there reading this, who can see that someone is feeling left out or not being themselves – be brave, be proud, extend an invitation to someone who might not be brave enough to ask for one – they’ll surprise you!
Colleagues who sit next to an LGBTQ+ person, go beyond the easy, pleasant conversations about fashion and everything “fabulous” – really invest, connect and get to know the whole person – they’ll surprise you!
To LGBTQ+ colleagues out there, be proud, becourageous and enjoy your second coming out!
Happy Pride Everyone! xo