What Pride Means to Us
Below we hear from Ali and Pete, on what it means to them to be a proud straight ally. Their words show us that being an ally is important and ultimately very simple, helping to improve the lives of the LGBT+ community everywhere.
Alison Bloomfield: Organisational Development & Diversity Manager
Just as we are all unique individuals, “Pride” can mean something different to each of us.
I grew up during the 70s and 80s at a time when Section 28 existed, which meant that schools weren’t allowed to teach pupils that homosexuality existed and that it was ok. I wasn’t exposed to LGBTQ+ people (with the exception of very stereotypical portrayals in sitcoms), however, I am pleased to say that my immediate family brought me up to be accepting of others, even if they were different to me. I am eternally grateful that due to my upbringing, I developed into someone who wants to learn about others and their experiences and have benefitted from being friends with and working with a diverse mix of people.
As a person who doesn’t identify as LGBTQ+, Pride is an opportunity to learn, celebrate and show my commitment to supporting the community. It’s about letting everyone know that it’s ok to be comfortable with who you are, it’s about saying “this is who I am and I am proud of it”. It’s also a time to reflect that not everyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ has the confidence or support mechanisms to live their life as they would fully like to. Which is why it’s so important that those of us who do identify as heterosexual shout out during Pride Month and show our support, raise awareness and address any phobia that we encounter.
Pride to me is ultimately about love for other people, regardless of who they are and that shouldn’t be confined to just one month – be proud every month!
Pete Gibbs: Executive Director of HR
Pride to me is a celebration of acceptance and an opportunity to give hope to the many people who are still not able to live their full life. Pride is a universal statement to show that’s it’s ok to be yourself, love who you want to love and to be proud of who you are. It is important to me that everyone feels comfortable being themselves in work.
Whilst I am a straight white man who has little to fear in my society, the same unfortunately can’t be said for people who identify as LGBTQ+, for people of colour and religious minorities – for everyone, we need to continue to strive for equal rights. Our lived experiences are always contextual and subjective, but just because it’s okay for me doesn’t mean it is okay for everyone.
Pride is an opportunity to celebrate our diverse communities. It allows us to remember the struggles that countless people have faced and reminds us that we still have a long way to go to ensure that everyone feels fully accepted and included.
For staff: To learn more and discover how you can support our LGBTQ+ community, visit the WGU LGBT+ Staff Network page by clicking here. If you are interested in joining the network please contact Charlotte Oram-Gettings (everyone is welcome to join the network regardless of how you identify). If you need confidential support email LGBTstaffnetwork@glyndwr.ac.uk.
Written by Alison Bloomfield and Pete Gibbs.
Ali is the Organisational Development & Diversity Manager at WGU; she supports equality, diversity and inclusion at the University, working with colleagues to provide a supportive and inclusive learning and working environment.
Pete is the Executive Director of HR. He is passionate about creating an inclusive and diverse environment for all at the University, where staff and students can feel comfortable being themselves and are able to thrive.