By Laura McLean, Project Manager & Inclusion Mentor, Santander
The first Pride I attended was London 2019. I walked in the Parade, representing the company I work for, with my partner by my side. We were both wheel stewards, so we were able to be down on the ground, dancing around, getting involved with the crowd and ensuring that everyone stayed safe around the Santander float.
As I danced along Piccadilly Circus to Wannabe by Spice Girls, my partner came over, put an arm around me and kissed me. There was a sudden chorus of ‘Awwwwww’ that we heard over the music accompanied by cheers, and as we turned to look, we realized that the crowd were cheering for us.
This moment really took us both by surprise. When being affectionate in public before, we’d experienced funny looks, head shakes and tuts, but this really stuck in my mind as the first overwhelmingly positive reaction we’d had. I found it heart-warming to know in that moment that not only were Santander accepting and celebrating who I am, but the people I’d come to represent and speak up for, were too. I’ve never felt more at home in a crowd of over 1 million strangers. The sense of all-inclusive belonging was incredible and the atmosphere so uplifting, I encourage anyone who hasn’t been to a Pride celebration, LGBTQ+ or otherwise, to come along to one when we are able to be together in person again!
For me, Pride was an important part in really cementing my acceptance of myself. It gave me a sense of all-inclusive belonging that I never have experienced anywhere else before
Pride is important because it allows us to celebrate who we are, without fear of judgement. It enables us to let people know that it’s okay to be who you are. There are so many statistics that show the truth of the fear that LGBTQ+ people carry with them into the corporate environment, including even going back into the closet when they join the corporate world. To see so many companies and individuals voicing their support and acceptance of the community, can really make a difference in any individuals journey, and it is an amazing, prominent reminder that there is no ‘blueprint’ for sexuality. For every voice that may try to tear you down, there are ten louder ones, supporting you, encouraging you and willing you to be happy as your true self.
Pride recognizes and honors our LGBTQ+ community, past and present, allowing us to celebrate loudly, for the many that came before us who couldn’t, and the many across the world who still can’t.