Pride 2022: unity, inclusion, and equality

Marking 50 years of Pride in the UK, OT  discusses progress and challenges

pride animation
Getty/Alisa Zahoruiko

The richness and diversity of London is one my favourite things about our capital city.

My memories of growing up in London are filled with an array of events from Notting Hill carnival, protests in parliament square and Pride celebrations sprawling into the streets in Soho.

After a two-year delay of in-person events due to the pandemic they’re back in full swing and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person excited about this.

Last weekend, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee was a great example of events returning to how they once were pre-pandemic.

This month across the UK another monumental and important celebration will take place, Pride 2022. Cities and towns across the UK will be celebrating by coming together with one another.

If one thing became clear to me over the last two years it is the importance of community, relationships, and our loved ones. For me, Pride certainly encapsulates this.

Seeing a sea of rainbow-coloured flags, glittered faces, and smiles, combined with a sense of purpose, openness, togetherness, and community, is what I think of when I think back to my first Pride in London.

Behind the celebrations and parades of Pride Month is an important message, one not to lose sight of – commemorating the date of the Stonewall riots in 1969.

In the UK Pride 2022 will be extra special, marking 50 years since the first Pride event was held in 1972. Support of this annual event has grown considerably. The first event in 1972 attracted approximately 2000 participants. Fast forward to 2022 and the event can attract around 1.5 million.

To honour and acknowledge the movement, The Royal Mint will “celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Pride UK event with a 50p coin, marking the first time Britain’s LGBTQ+ community has been celebrated on a UK coin.”
Reflecting on the milestones, where we are now and also what needs to change, Stonewall’s Take Pride report 2022 revealed interesting findings regarding attitudes towards LGBTQ+ communities from the British public.
The charity’s research showed that, “the UK is a country that is proud to be inclusive; one where its people are increasingly embracing their LGBTQ+ neighbours, colleagues, family and friends,” adding that this “adds further colour to the beautiful picture being painted by other pieces of research. YouGov polling shows more than seven in 10 Brits would support someone close to them who came out as LGBTQ+, and greater numbers of people now feel comfortable being out as their true selves.”

However, as presented in Stonewall’s report, there are still challenges ahead with “minority viewpoints being presented as fact in our media and in our politics.”

All the more reason to take part in Pride Month to create a fairer, safer and equal society.

As we’ve seen in previous years many companies and brands will be showing their support for the LGBTQ+ community by launching limited-edition products or Pride-focused campaigns, and this year is no different. From brands as juxtaposed as Oreo cookies to Bratz dolls.

As Pink News reports “each year brands come under fire for chasing after the “pink pound” with their Pride clothing and ignoring LGBT+ people for the rest of the year.”

While it’s great to see brands acknowledging and supporting Pride month, they do raise an important question. How authentic are these brands?
It’s important to make your own mind up about a brands authenticity or whether they might just be jumping on the bandwagon and popping on a rainbow print.

In order to create change and promote inclusivity the AOP’s 100% Respect campaign aims to unite optometry against discrimination.

As a part of the campaign, the AOP offers a range of anti-discrimination resources to help assist employers and employees, downloadable resources for you and your organisation to help create respect in your workplace and a guide to the legal and regulatory framework.

The AOP is also encouraging everyone that works in the optical industry, from individuals to business, to make a pledge against discrimination so as an industry we’re vocal on equality and inclusion.

To mark Pride this year, why not make your pledge to call for 100% respect?

The OT team has recently launched a new feature, Time to speak, profiling how discrimination in the workplace is affecting eye care professionals. You can read this in our June/July edition, landing this weekend.

If you identify as LGBTQ+ and have experienced discrimination in the workplace we would like to hear from you. If you’re interested in sharing your story, please get in touch with [email protected]