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Pride flags in the air at London Pride

It is safe to say that 2020 hasn’t been the year any of us were expecting. With the majority of us now working from home, we’ve had to figure out new ways to socialise and celebrate remotely with friends and family. Figuring out how to celebrate Pride month was no exception.

Our office culture is built on us being physically there for one another, being present and showing our support in every way we can. For Pride, this means attending lunch and learns, celebrating with pride themed cakes at tea-time, each having a mini Pride flag on our desk to show our individual support. We would have been coming back to work the Monday after Pride after a weekend of marching and celebration, with matching t-shirts, whistles and flags and in the most amazing mood ever, because that is what Pride does to you. It lifts your spirits and fills you with love.

Colleagues celebrating at London Pride 2019
Pride 2019 - Before we rebranded from TAB to Kin + Carta Create

As you can imagine, moving Pride to a completely remote environment wasn’t as straightforward as we first thought but, if anything, it has been more meaningful and brought us even closer together. The time that we have spent physically apart has highlighted that being together and celebrating is amazing, and of course we miss it, but that’s not what truly matters. Pride is not all about the glitter and celebrations, it’s about how we empower our LGBTQIA+ community to feel comfortable showing up to work every day as their most authentic self, how we support them, and give them the opportunity for their voices to be heard - and guess what? All of that can be done from home!

We adopted the Pride in London 2020 theme ‘You!Me!Us!We!’ for our own Kin + Carta Pride week, with the aim to celebrate those who identify within the LGBTQIA+ community and to focus on educating those who don’t identify on how to be better allies both at work and in their personal lives.

We started by sharing an LGBTQIA+ Reference a Day to a dedicated Pride Slack channel, where we have been looking in more detail about exactly what each letter of LGBTQIA+ stands for. We also ran a Pride flag competition throughout the month of June, asking everyone to design their own flag - the rules were simple, it didn’t have to be a rainbow design, it simply had to represent what makes the individual proud. The winner was picked at our Virtual Pride on 26 June and was chosen by everyone on the call by a live Zoom poll!

The winning design was a cross-stitch question mark, “because although I'm proud, I still find it hard to really put a label on what my sexuality is! It's also such a complex feeling that I think although labels help people, you're never going to be able to articulate exactly that feeling as an LGBT+ person. It's done in cross stitch because it's fiddly and fragile just like sexual identities are.”

Winning pride flag image

To help educate us on the importance of allies, we ran a workshop hosted by Stonewall, open to everyone across the global Kin + Carta Connective. The Introduction to Allyship workshop aims to give non-LGBTQIA+ individuals the opportunity to explore what it means to be an ally and the space to identify how they can create an inclusive environment for everyone. The success of this workshop has meant that this is something we will continue to run on a quarterly basis, to give all of us the opportunity to experience it.

quote from attendee of the Stonewall workshop
Quote from attendee of the Stonewall workshop

We have also been working hard on communication, which has been vital as we’ve been so physically far apart. We’ve been sharing the history of Pride, where, why and how it began. Discussing intersectionality, looking at when our identities intersect they multiply, meaning that we don’t experience our identities as separate factors, they combine to create new forms of oppression. We also looked at how all of this can have devastating effects on our mental health, especially to those that identify as LGBTQIA+. Fighting for your fundamental human rights to live the life you choose is hard at the best of times, adding the mental stress and struggles a pandemic has brought makes it so much more difficult. This is why it has been so important that we celebrate and create awareness right now.

One of the most important aspects of being an ally is listening and educating yourself. Since lockdown began we have been holding weekly story time sessions for one hour each week where we gather together (on Zoom of course!) and those that want to, tell us a story, an experience or something that has happened to them at any point during their lives.

zoom call with 25 people on the screen

We held a Pride focussed Story Time in June where some of our Kin who identify as LGBTQIA+ bravely shared their own stories about their sexuality, how they identify and anecdotes of their experiences. It was heartbreaking to hear how our colleagues, our friends have been treated during their lives by complete strangers - we still have a long way to go to make the world truly LGBTQIA+ inclusive. Yet, it was also uplifting to know that they felt comfortable enough to share these moments with us, to educate us and to help us become the best allies that we can be.

There will be a day soon when we can all hug each other and celebrate, but now isn't that time, and that’s okay. This year’s Pride has been a really important time for reflection, for remembering exactly why we celebrate, protest, march and create awareness. There’s still a long way to go to enact change in the world, and despite being apart, we’ve really come together to continue to create a safe physical and virtual work environment for everyone to be themselves and explore who they truly are.

Group selfie during the pride parade
Pride 2019 - Before we rebranded from TAB to Kin + Carta Create

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