By John Glenton, Executive Director of Care and Support and Executive Sponsor of our LGBTIQ+ staff network Spectrum.
Why Pride? I know some people are asking why the UK still needs LGBTIQ+ events when in some respects our community has never had it so good.
With so many improvements in the equality laws and high-profile positive role models, being a member of the LGBTIQ+ community is no longer seen as a career limiting issue.
However, when you look at the community closely you can see how its members are disproportionately affected in so many negative ways. For example, a recent study by Stonewall found that over the previous year:
- half of LGBTIQ+ people had experienced depression and three in five had experienced anxiety
- one in eight LGBTIQ+ people aged 18 to 24 had attempted to end their life
- almost half of trans people had thought about taking their life.
Members of the LGBTIQ+ community are at a greater risk of experiencing hate crime compared to the general population. Certain LGBTIQ+ groups are at particular risk, including gay men, young people and those who are from Black, Asian and ethnic minority groups.
In addition to this, younger LGBTIQ+ people are at greater risk of homelessness and rough sleeping.
All these statistics would indicate that for some people in our community life continues to be really tough. And despite the amazing progress made in recent years around equality, in many countries around the world it continues to be illegal to identify as LGBTIQ+.
For me, Pride is about celebrating the freedoms we fought for and now enjoy, celebrating diversity and valuing how the LGBTIQ+ community can be allies to one another.
The rainbow flag is the symbol of Pride and in recent years when I have visited our many offices and looked at a sea of rainbow across the buildings it has made me feel a sense of warmth and community – knowing that my colleagues want to celebrate demonstrates such progress certainly since I started my career.