The Importance of Showing Support for LGBTQ+ Communities
Leeds Mind is a charity that supports the people to achieve positive mental health through a variety of services.
Shannon Brown, HR Officer, discusses why it is important for Leeds Mind, as a local Mindful Employer Charter Signatory, to celebrate Leeds Pride and support LGBTQ+ Communities.
On Sunday 4th August we teamed up with Touchstone, Live Well Leeds, Community Links, and Leeds Irish Health and Homes to attend Leeds Pride.
Our day started at the Pride Market, where we had a stall with information about mental health services in Leeds. A couple of talented service users set up a glitter station to ensure we all looked sufficiently sparkly (glitter is still being found almost a month later!) as we handed out flags, stickers, and branded freebies. We also walked through the crowds to talk to people and collected over 125 pledge cards from members of the public on how they take pride in their mental health. Here are some of the things people shared with us:
“Making sure I practice self-care and ask others how they are doing”
“Spending time with my wonderful children”
“Talking more when I feel down and not hiding it”
“Cooking for friends who became family”
“The gym – I hate going but it keeps my brain working at a normal pace”
“Being grateful for the little things (like rainbows and glitter!)”
“Long baths, a good brew, and cuddles with my cats”
At 2 pm we met at Leeds City Hall to start the parade, where we had a beautiful vintage bus decorated with flags and banners from the various services. We also had walkers holding up signs, blowing bubbles, and inciting cheers from the spectators along the parade route. Despite being one of the last groups in the parade we got a huge reaction from the crowd, highlighting just how many people are passionate about mental health services.
Being involved in Leeds Pride was important to us as a Mindful Employer, as we know that being LGBTQ+ in the workplace can be difficult. From the fear of having to come out to colleagues, to fears of homophobia and discrimination, it’s no surprise that 35% of LGBTQ+ people in the UK hide their sexuality at work. Transgender employees face further stigma due to a lack of awareness and education. By having a presence at Pride, we wanted to send a message that Leeds Mind is a safe and welcoming place where everybody is accepted, respected and supported no matter what their sexuality or gender identity.
As fun as Pride is, it’s important to remember that the LGBTQ+ community needs support all year round and not just for one day or one month. From the shootings at Pulse nightclub in 2016 to the criminalisation of homosexuality in approximately 70 countries across the world, we still have a long way to go until all LGBTQ+ people feel safe and accepted. This year we circulated information to all staff on how to be an effective ally to the community. For example, an easy first step that anybody can make is to follow more LGBTQ+ activists and influencers on social media and engage with their content (because how many of us are guilty of only following people we can easily relate to?) By diversifying your social media, you can educate yourself on issues within the community. Something as simple as starting a conversation about how these issues affect people in your workplace can do wonders for inclusivity.
We can’t wait for Pride 2020 and we will be hopefully running some LGBTQ+ activities throughout the year with our #PartnersInPride, check out the Leeds Mind social media feeds for more information on the events taking place and to learn how you can take part in the celebrations and show your support.