June means Pride. And while we like to think of ourselves as diversity and inclusion champions 365 days a year (just ask the team at B Corp!), we know that there’s a lot to do still and throwing up a rainbow logo is nowhere near enough. A good place to start is by asking the queer representing people in our team what Pride means to them, so that’s just what we did.
Hear Kyomi’s words:
We are not doing enough.
Whenever I think of the importance of Pride and what it means to me, a lot of things spring to mind.
My final year at school.
By this point I had already come to terms with the fact that I am gay. I’d struggled with it for years, a few of my closest friends knew and that was already enough for me.
The fear of anyone else finding out was consuming me every day. I recall all of the homophobic comments from strangers, bullies, friends and even family. In fact I even remember harbouring some of those thoughts myself. I knew the way society looked at me was about to change. And it did.
It didn’t take me very long to get used to feeling unsafe. In pubs, parties, nightclubs, I become accustomed to being an easy target for arseholes. I’ve been called names and had gestures made at me that I won’t even repeat. I’ve had people outright refuse to sit next to me and let everyone within earshot know that it’s because of my sexuality. I’ve had many men try and take girlfriends away from me because our relationship “doesn’t count”.
I could go on, but you get the gist.
Feeling unsafe becomes the norm when incidents like that happen regularly when you’re just trying to exist in the world. From the day I came out I can honestly say I only feel truly safe once a year.
I remember attending my first ever pride as a person that had “come out”. I remember the absence of the usual tension that I tend to carry. It’s a day where I know the armour that weighs me down is not needed.
I recall looking around and knowing that everyone around me feels the same.
With this feeling comes the sudden realisation that this isn’t a fair way for people to live. The weightless feeling of just enjoying yourself, without the underlying expectation of being made to feel ostracised or different. Without the expectation of pain.
Why should we have to expect pain?
Why, after all this time, are there still people who want to hurt us?
I’ve never been the most emotional person. In fact, it takes a lot to make me cry. But Pride is a guaranteed tear jerker for me, every year. The minute the crowd gathers and we start marching. I cry. Sometimes it’s a tear or two. Sometimes I sob for the whole thing.
As embarrassing as that can feel – It’s valid and I allow myself these tears.
It’s unfair that some of us feel like we need this day to feel *safe*. Not superior, not even celebrated, just *safe*.
Homophobia is a topic that I’m often throwing myself and other people into. Conversing with sceptics is my go-to.
The consensus among a lot of cis people I have spoken to is that homophobia isn’t really an issue anymore. Because they themselves are not homophobic and they haven’t witnessed homophobia, so to them it doesn’t exist. That’s very easy to say when it’s something you don’t experience first-hand.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to listen. If you want to have an opinion on queerness, you must at least have some vague idea of what life looks like through a queer lens. Listen to your queer friends, ask questions, read blogs. Do whatever you can to gain an understanding, then share that understanding with others.
Understanding creates knowledge and knowledge is power. We can’t progress as humankind without trying to understand each other.
In our future, I’d like to see equality. REAL equality. I want to see a world where religious, political and economic leaders acknowledge how certain demographics are unfairly treated and then actually DO something about it.
Progress is being made, I feel privileged and grateful to be a part of a company that is a safe space for all. A company that has ears to listen and a voice to help make a change. Yellow Sub is that space for everyone. We’re all passionate and vocal about a multitude of different issues and topics and it’s companies like this that will shape the future. I hope for a future where this safe space is accessible to everyone. I hope for a future where this is the norm.