Sheila Sloan
Director of Human Resources

As we enter another Pride celebration month and as someone new to First Response Group, I wanted to share my point of view.

When the Pride movement first started in 1970 it became a catalyst for change and acceptance. It wasn’t until 2000 that it had grown so much that it was recognised, and Bill Clinton declared Pride month an annual event. It took Barack Obama to update it to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month in 2011.

I grew up completely unaware of the movement. The 1980s were a time of change and growth in acceptance. There was still a lot of hate and violence towards anyone who was deemed to be “different”. You only have to watch sit coms from the 1970s and 1980s to see how far we’ve now come and how much more accepting we are, and not just of the LGBTQ+ community.

There is still a lot more we can do though.

I became aware of the Pride movement in 2001. When I first heard the term, it brought to mind the U2 song, Pride (In the Name of Love). The song was released in 1984 and whilst an anthem to many fans, the meaning  nd depth of the lyrics actually make it a great association.

The song is a shout out to all nonviolent human rights activists in history, from Jesus Christ to Martin Luther King Jr. “In the name of love, what more in the name of love” is a comment on giving your life to a cause.

In the name of love song lyrics

As I learned more about the Pride cause and other upcoming movements like Black Lives Matter, I wanted to understand what I could do. I can understand my perspective of privilege. White, Middle-Class upbringing and living in the UK with a good education and opportunities available to me. What do I know and how can I help? The answer can be tough at times. But working in HR and having a good understanding of discrimination and harassment it is one I’ve spent years ensuring is in place.

Whilst love and acceptance are an inherent part of my ethics and integrity on a day-to-day basis, there is more all of us can do. We all need to take the power back from those who discriminate, whether it’s obvious or the more regular occurrence of day-to-day jokes and “banter”. If you hear a joke that discriminates or harasses one specific characteristic, then we all need to call it out and put an end to the “it’s just a joke” justification. If it would be offensive to one person, it should be offensive to all.

I’m not saying we can’t have a laugh and a joke or banter at work. What I am saying is that it shouldn’t be at someone else’s expense. In the same way as men need to call out their friends if they cat call a woman in passing, we should all call out people that choose to hate people who are different. We need to be allies and not just passive in the war against intolerance and discrimination.

We need to be allies

So listen, shine a spotlight on those whose voices are not always heard, recognise what privilege and power you have and use it to lift up your friends and colleagues, be aware of any implicit biases you have, support each other wherever possible, and don’t expect to be recognised for being an ally, just do it because it’s the right thing to do.

In a world where there is war, famine and death on a daily basis we don’t need to add the pestilence of discrimination. Whether your religion, if you have one, accepts or reviles those who celebrate Pride, we are one race, the human race and acceptance and love should be the priority for all.

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come, he to justify
One man to overthrow
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

Moving things into the 21st Century and keeping with a musical theme, Andra Day wrote her song Rise Up about people being broken down and tired and moving mountains WITH them, rising up unafraid and doing it a thousand times again.

Rise up

So, let’s see if 2023 can update an old anthem from 1984 and bring about some Pride, In the Name of Love to everyone, whatever religion, colour, race, ability, sexuality, gender, or age as we Rise Up to move mountains together.

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