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Visibility - recognising diversity in its entirety

October 02, 2020

On behalf of our LGBT+ Working group, I welcome you to celebrate LGBT+ History Month with us.

Hearing our own stories for the first time, our own experiences and our reasons for being in the working group, the diversity amongst our group was so apparent and showed a real commonality – to educate, inspire and influence change.

Collectively, through this blog and upcoming social content, we really want to breathe life into our history by looking back at significant movements throughout yesteryear that have paved the way for monumental changes - ones that have led us to the vibrant celebrations we know and love. We also felt it poignant to address issues that exist within our community today sensitively.

For decades, both Manchester and London have been known and are still recognised today by many as LGBT+ friendly destinations – and to us, that’s part of the warmth we feel by being humble members of their communities. From the extraordinary efforts of charities and supportive businesses to community-minded individuals who strive to make a real change, we are inspired by the work that goes into addressing serious issues within these cities, surrounding towns and beyond.

Looking back at the progression and developments made within the LGBT+ community over the years, we appreciate that much of what we see in today’s community has not come without struggle. A lack of acknowledgement and understanding of specific issues can make it seemingly difficult to really recognise that change is needed.

‘Visibility’ is an ongoing battle that is still fought by many today. At the very heart of what we stand for, we aim to bring both visibility and support to our internal and external LGBT+ communities with pride.

What do we mean when we say ‘Visibility’?

According to Google, the definition of Visibility is: ‘the state of being able to see or be seen’.

To us, sharing knowledge, giving the platform or being the voice for under-represented, under-appreciated communities is precisely that.

In society, we often find ourselves falling into common traps whereby if we have little understanding of a subject we may not relate to, we can perhaps try and move on in the belief that things aren’t that bad, or even an issue altogether. Sadly, this doesn’t alter the reality that these issues do exist: racism, homophobia/internal homophobia, discrimination, exclusion. It just makes it that bit more difficult each time to gain momentum and address solutions.

We formed the LGBT+ Working Group in 2018, and had considerable input in the run-up to Manchester Pride; everybody’s input into the designs was encouraged and became crucially important to the success of our message. Our collective creative efforts were brought to life by an inspirational variety of sexualities, gender identities, ethnicities, cultures and religious beliefs show that ‘it takes all sorts’ and our real strengths and successes rely on true collaboration.

As a Working Group, we appreciate there is much more to address beyond the significance of Manchester Pride of which we are truly proud to represent, and that our dedication to our communities reaches beyond August. From gender identity to racism and under-representation, there is still a long way to go.

One area is the recognition of people of colour in the LGBT+ community. For 2019, Manchester Pride has selected an official flag which includes black and brown stripes in addition to the original rainbow. Initially introduced in Philadelphia, it was designed to reflect today’s modern society. Internally, our BAME and LGBT+ working groups share the belief that this is a valuable addition and hope that it will bring visibility to the challenges that LGBT+ people of colour face.

Bi Visibility is generally celebrated by the bisexual community and their supporters in September and has been marked each year since 1999 to highlight biphobia. Many sexualities identify in the LGBT+ community; however, we appreciate those within the ‘+’ find that many are either assumed to be a branch-off from Gay or Lesbian, or heavily under-represented. This often causes many bisexual people to hide who they truly are, especially in the workplace. It’s something that’s struck a chord with us, as we will not define an individual by our own knowledge. Our culture is invaluable to us - everybody is welcome to be and enjoy who they are at work.

Working closely with the fantastic Stonewall and observing the incredible work they continuously do to drive change and diversity, we have learned how we can influence ‘role modelling’ behaviour starting with ‘big little things’ that can make a true difference. Our first article on International Pronouns Day was within our commitment to educate ourselves and extend that education amongst our peers and friends, with many adapting their signatures to include their own pronouns. This is such a crucial step for us in dispelling assumptions based entirely on someone’s appearance, but for recognising someone the way they genuinely identify.

As the year continues, we are committed to continuing our own journeys with our learning, enhancing our role modelling behaviours and extending ourselves with LGBT+ charities.

Craig.