On a personal level, June is an important month. Not only is it Pride Month, but for me it marks three years of being in a same sex relationship. This was a huge turning point in my life, as I had never envisaged myself being in a same sex relationship, nor did any of my nearest and dearest. It was a challenging time, I had been keeping this a secret from my family and friends and battling huge surges of emotions, wondering what people will think. Will I be accepted? Will I lose relationships over it? And wondering if my career would suffer as a result. In truth, at the time I am ashamed to admit that I didn't want to be gay, knowing full well about the stigma that is attached and the challenges the LGBTQ community face.
Realisation soon struck and this was the real turning point. Love is love. Everyone is different, and our differences are what makes us great. We all deserve to feel included, and to make choices for ourselves that will bring us happiness. No one else should be able to get in the way of that.
Fortunately for me, none of the above concerns were a reality. My friends and family were so accepting and welcomed my partner with open arms. I didn't lose relationships, and if anything, I gained many after having been introduced to so many wonderful people as part of the LGBTQ family. Luckily, my career wasn't affected and I grew comfortable talking about my relationship in the workplace to my colleagues, feeling proud to share that I am in a same sex relationship.
I know I had it lucky, however so many others in the LGBTQ community face constant challenges, stigmas, inequalities and hatred. Some of my dear friends have shared stories with me about abuse they have received that would move you to tears. Despite there having been so many positive steps made towards equality, fairness and inclusivity for all, it is fair to say that there is still an extremely long journey ahead of us.
Here are a few things that everyone can easily do to help raise awareness and show support for Pride Month which can make huge impact:
1. Educate yourself - Read it, absorb it and share with others. There is so much information out there, about Pride Month, The Stonewall riots of 1969, the LGBTQ community, Inclusive and Diversity.
2. Show your support & raise your own rainbow flag to show you stand with the LGBTQ community. Even better, write a post, comment, attend a webinar or Pride parade...the options are endless.
3. Be mindful of your choice of words and do not make assumptions. For example, don't assume gender or sexuality of others around you. A personal bugbear of mine is being asked "what does my boyfriend do?".... gah!!
4. Speak out when you encounter hatred or discrimination towards others.
5. Ask questions and be inquisitive. I think a big part of the lack of education around Pride Month and LGBTQ community is that people are scared of saying the wrong thing. However, education comes by asking questions and reflecting on your learnings. It is far better to ask if you do not know or take the time to education yourself. There are so many people out there willing to engage in conversation and enlighten the world about what Pride Month represents, you just need to step out of your comfort zone and raise you hand.
For all of us, Pride Month is so unbelievably important, not just for society now but for generations to come in the hope of building a fairer, inclusive and more diverse world. It is about being proud of who you are, no matter who you love. Myself and the Passle team stand with everyone else who is celebrating Pride Month and the LGBTQ community, embracing everyone's unique differences. As a company, we are committed in continuing to create an environment that promotes diversity, fairness and equality for everyone.