What does Pride Month mean to you?

June marks Pride month around the world, where people celebrate diversity and inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is a great opportunity to celebrate, reflect and show gratitude to those that have paved the way for a more equitable future – and to continue to fly the rainbow flag for those that still face prejudice, inequality and oppression.

At Major Players, we are using this month to reinforce our commitment to LGBTQIA+ inclusion within our workplace and beyond, celebrating acceptance and allyship, and championing authenticity. As part of Pride Month, we spoke to some of our Talent Partners to find out what Pride means to them, how allyship remains critical and who inspires them.

Simon Spencer-Rouen

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride month is all about celebration, acknowledgement and fun! It is the perfect opportunity to unapologetically celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and all that we are, having conversations around our journey to date but also where there is opportunity for further growth, support and progression. It allows us to organize worldwide events that bring unity to the LGBTQIA+ community and offers a platform for those who wish to be allies!

What does an LGBTQIA+ ally look like for you?

An ally is a person/organization that celebrates with the LGBTQIA+ community but also is a driving force for creating a better life and future for the community. It is someone who stands with us, side by side, when time are tough and demands change and equality for all. Being an ally is not about being there one month a year, but the full 365 days!

Who is your LGBTQIA+ hero for 2021?

Russel T Davies. He has given a platform for the conversation around HIV and AIDS that has never reached such magnitude before. It is amazing to see/hear the amount of friends and family not only discussing ‘It’s A Sin’ but also how they want to know and learn more about HIV and what they means/ looks like in today’s society. I believe it truly is the start of removing the stigma that HIV/AIDS has both within and outside the community, which can only be good for everyone.

Mikela Fofana

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride month means stepping into your light and taking complete joy in celebrating love! It’s about celebrating LGBTQIA+ history, fighting discrimination and honouring difference. This is a month to show the world how amazing and proud you are!

What does an LGBTQIA+ ally look like for you?

Someone who can listen, learn and stand with the community. Allies are people who push boundaries when they see them and protect communities when they observer injustice. An ally is someone who advocates not only equality but equity within their company, home or community so that these ‘small’ changes can make big changes across the world!

Who is your LGBTQIA+ hero for 2021?

As a Black woman, Lil Nas X is my LGBTQIA+ hero for 2021. I love that that he is standing proud and breaking down the taboo that Black rappers cannot be gay. Many Black LGBTQIA+ people have a difficult time stepping into their light as the nuances of race, queer identities, or the intersection of both can at times be uninformed in Black spaces. Lil Nas X is paving the way as a role models to the next generation and he is letting them know it’s okay to be proudly you!

George Greenaway-Poole

What does Pride mean to you?

As a gay man, Pride has always been incredibly important to me for various reasons. It affords me the time to reflect on my own journey, celebrate the community and to reflect on the challenges we continue to face.

Quite simply, the need for Pride would not exist if queer people were freely accepted without prejudice. In recent times we have seen the rights of LGBTQIA+ people regress in several (EU!) counties including Poland where there are now “LGBTQ Free Zone’s” and recently in Hungary, where they voted 157 votes to 1 to ban LGBT content in schools. Only this week have we seen the UK overhaul the dehumanising blood donation rules, allowing gay and bi men to donate blood without discrimination. These examples of oppression, albeit the latter shows progress, act as reminder that there is still plenty of work to do both here in the UK and abroad.

What does an LGBTQIA+ ally look like for you?

Being an LGBTQIA+ ally is about helping to create an inclusive society where people can live proudly as themselves by listening, education, being visible and speaking out against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. I believe it’s relatively simple to be an ally of the community, but what’s important is acting upon all of the above – far too often people are allies, but also bystanders. We need to challenge ourselves, our friends, our colleagues and our families to do better – to call our and challenge comments, jokes and slurs.

Who is your LGBTQIA+ hero for 2021?

My hero is human rights activist and “queer terrorist”, Peter Tatchell. Recently Netflix commissioned a documentary, Hating Peter Tatchell, showcasing the extent to which Peter is willing to put his life in danger to help make someone else’s better – something he has been doing for 54 years! We owe an enormous amount of gratitude to Peter and that’s why he is my 2021 hero (and beyond!)

Louise Hope

What does Pride mean to you?

It’s about celebrating and supporting the LGBTQIA+ community and their ongoing evolution! It’s also about creating awareness of the struggles the community have had to face (and still facing) over the years to get to where we are today.

What does an LGBTQIA+ ally look like for you?

Someone who can celebrate alongside the LGBTQIA+ community, standing proud with them always.

Who is your LGBTQIA+ hero for 2021?

Due to their very recent announcement as identifying as non-binary, I would have to say Demi Lovato! They have such a huge social media following and are very active in the LGBT community, I can only see this as being a huge influence for people who identify as non-binary.

Abi Street

What does Pride mean to you?

As a mother of small children, Pride month is an opportunity to talk and showcase acceptance, openness and love. Children are brave and proud by their very nature and by bringing them up in love and inclusivity, we’re teaching and showing them how to be their true selves and how we can influence their friends and those around them as they grow. By discussing the LGBTQIA+ community from a young age, I believe we are fostering openness and liberalism, allowing them to grow as themselves and showing it is okay to be to be gay, queer, non-binary or transgender.

What does an LGBTQIA+ ally look like for you?

Someone who is committed to change without judgement. An LGBTQIA+ ally uses whatever skills and platform to influence, raise awareness and start the conversations that need to be had. It takes bravery to be an ally, you must be open to vulnerability and accepting of people's blind spots, including your own, safe in the knowledge that change can happen and the battle is worth the fight...even though it can be slow and frustrating at times!

Who is your LGBTQIA+ hero for 2021?

Gareth Thomas for the impact he's having on dispelling myths around the link between masculinity & sexuality and for using his platform to talk about HIV in the modern day. Since his retirement from sport, he has been campaigning for more diversity and inclusion in the sporting world and, although there is still a long way to go, professional sport is so influential throughout childhood and beyond - imagine the impact it would have if our children grew up knowing their sporting heroes were part of the LGBTQAI+ community and proud?

10 ways to be an ally & Friend

An ‘ally’ is someone who has privilege, but chooses to stand for and with marginalised communities who face discrimination. An ally can do this by taking tangible, ongoing actions to dismantle systems of oppression. Here are 10 ways to become an ally and friend:

LISTENING

Listen to what marginalised people are saying – face-to-face, on your social media feed or in the articles you read. It is not about you, your feelings or opinions; it’s about hearing theirs.

LEARNING

Removing yourself from opinion echo chambers can be hard but seeking out books, articles etc.  about the history and current issues facing marginalised communities can make such a difference when dismantling systems of oppressions.

PARICIPATING

Join local groups working for social justice. Subscribe to their email lists, follow them on social media and show up and support their work.

SHOWING UP

When someone from a marginalised community invites you to an event, try your best to go – be there to listen, learn and show your support.

SPEAKING UP

When a friend, family member, co-worker or stranger says something hateful or ignorant, call them out. Silence allows oppression to continue.

INTERVENE

When someone is being targeted – physically or verbally – intervene only with their permission. Focus on supporting them rather than engaging the aggressor.

WELCOME DISCOMFORT

When you encounter something that makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t dismiss it. Sit with it, feel it and ask yourself “why?”. The answer will welcome an opportunity to grow and learn.

LEARN

You will make mistakes, but the important thing, is when you’re challenged, don’t get defensive. Listen, apologies and change your behaviour moving forward.

STAY ENGAGED

Even when the work gets difficult, stay engaged. Oppression is constant, and marginalised people do not have the privilege of “turning it of”. Think if you are tired of hearing or talking about it, think how tired they must be of living it.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE

No act is too small. Commit to financially supporting or spare your time a local organisation on an ongoing basis. Reach out to glad.org to find out who is doing social justice work in your community.

Being an ally is more than just waving a flag during a celebration day or month. It’s about celebrating acceptance and authenticity, 365 days a year, challenging the status quo. Click here to find out what we are doing to support marginalised groups with our DE&I Pledge.