As LGBT+ History Month in the UK comes to a close for 2021, we spoke to our Digital Talent Partner and LGBTQIA+ Affinity Group Representative, Simon Spencer-Rouen, about his experiences growing up, what this month means to him and why the theme of Mind, Body & Soul resonates so well.
What were your experiences growing up?
Growing up, like many of those in the LGBT+ community, was centred around my own acceptance of who I was and subsequently coming to terms with that.
I hadn’t really been around or knew many lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people until my college and university years, and the only gay representation I saw was very limited within TV and film. As a result, I didn’t really know what being openly gay actually meant for me and the kind of life I would be able to lead.
I like so many have had experiences of homophobia and have had to deal with the trauma of those events. I was very fortunate to have an accepting group of family and friends; who completely supported me as a young gay person and helped me navigate challenges I faced.
It is because of them, I can stand here today and say I am proud to be a gay man!
Why is LGBT+ History month important?
It’s a great opportunity to celebrate, reflect and show gratitude to the forefathers, foremothers and foresisters who sacrificed and fought so much to enable the LGBT+ community to be where it is today. It’s because of these fearless trailblazers we have a more tolerant society.
It also affords us the opportunity to continue to educate ourselves and those around us, that despite the monumental efforts of yesteryear, we still face great challenges ahead to create a fully inclusive society.
By sharing the stories of these influential characters, we can provide hope and inspiration for the younger generation that change does happen, is happening and will continue to happen.
I use this month to reignite my passion and determination to continue to fight for equality, for all of our community.
What does the theme of Mind, Body & Soul mean to you?
Mind is representative of the self-acceptance of being gay and the thoughts and feelings that arise during those times when you are learning about who you are and learning to love and be proud of that. To be proud of all the dimensions that make you up to be the person you are.
Body is about accepting that individuals come in all shapes and sizes and we should discourage the thought of there being an ideal or perfect person. We should celebrate our difference and love one another regardless of what form we come in.
Soul for me is the most important. Soul is the essence of who someone is. It’s how we treat ourselves and others; it’s what type of person we want to actually be. To get to the soul we must truly learn to accept, love and empower.
What would you say to your younger self?
Just be authentically you. There will be triumphs and hurdles but regardless of factors outside of your control, what really matters is who you are on the inside. Let it shine, be proud and your life is going to be pretty amazing!
What do you hope for the future?
Ultimately I hope that one day we can live in a fully inclusive society where everyone is able to be free to live their life without prejudice.
It’s reported that a third of LGBTQ+ employees hide their sexuality at work for fear of discrimination, and I am incredibly fortunate that at Major Players we celebrate and promote inclusion, collaboration and accountability. Through the work we are doing in our affinity groups, we are trying to change that statistic and encourage all workplaces to strive to create environments where employees can thrive and be their true authentic selves.
What more can we learn about LGBT+ History Month?
There are a ton of great resources and charities out there to learn more about LGBT+ History - click the link for further educational resources, as well as links to relevant film, TV and radio sources.
There are also some great charities doing vital work within the community.
Bring In is a ground breaking initiative that aims at enhancing the visibility of Intersex People, as well as at promoting Intersex Equality by building the capacity of social and healthcare professionals on how to recognize, prevent and combat discrimination on the grounds of sex characteristics, while raising public awareness and advocating for the need to act upon the human rights violations that intersex people face.
Mermaids supports transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse children and young people until their 20th birthday, as well as their families and professionals involved in their care.
Mind Out work to improve the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTQ communities and try to make mental health a community concern.