As the new vice-chair of Spectrum, I want to share my thoughts about the impact of the tragic mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, and why it’s even more important that we continue to campaign on LGBT equality and rights.
On that fateful night last month, LGBT people, their friends and allies had gone out to party and celebrate love and friendship, only to have their lives ripped apart by a lone gunman, who indiscriminately and methodically shot and wounded so many people. It’s sad that yet another mass killing of innocent people has happened again, and shocking that in 2016 the LGBT community has been clearly targeted in the USA.
With this tragedy still fresh in our minds, we want to show our support for our LGBT customers and staff by attending Pride events across the country. We have already been at Gloucester Pride and are looking forward to Hull, Newcastle, Carlisle, Brighton, Manchester and Liverpool events. A first this year for us is Sparkle, the unique trans event to be held this weekend in Manchester. Our attendance at these events really does put our commitment to equality and diversity into practice.
I’m proud to say that we now have over 150 Friends of Spectrum, allies who have signed up to support LGBT equality here at Riverside.
I recently watched the film Pride, which made me laugh and cry in equal measure. It’s a moving account of how allies from very different communities came together to forge lasting bonds, friendships and partnerships.
It tells the story of a group of LGBT people joining with a Welsh mining community during the strike of the 1980s. The campaigning group, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) stayed at Onllwyn and helped raise £11,000 to support the community. The bonds they forged were so strong that at the Pride march in 1985, LGSM were supported by the people of Onllwyn, and by many other mining villages across the country. The result was that the National Union of Mineworkers pushed for full equality for LGBT people at the Labour Conference the following year, resulting in the Equality Resolution. This shows how allies can really make change happen. Following our February recruitment campaign, I’m proud to say that we now have over 150 Friends of Spectrum, allies who have signed up to support LGBT equality here at Riverside.
UK Pride events have changed a great deal since the 1980s. They have become less political and more about celebrating the diversity of LGBT life. However, in many other countries the political struggle is still active and the fight against discrimination, and for equality is not easily won. In Turkey this year crowds celebrating Pride were blasted with water cannons by the authorities to disperse them. We mustn’t forget that there is still work to do globally before we achieve true equality.
So as Pride season gets underway, we’re ready to party, but I’m sure we won’t forget those who are still prohibited from gathering to celebrate the freedom to be themselves.