16 June 2021
This week we have a very special episode in honour of Pride Month, and we’re delighted to be joined by two LCP colleagues, Jess Horner and Luke Hothersall. Jess and Luke share their experiences of being gay in the city, and we also discuss wider LGBT+ issues with them.
- What Pride Month means to Jess and Luke
- The impact of changing attitudes towards the LGBT+ community
- Power of networks, both internal and at industry level
- The importance of pronouns
- Making sure trans and non-binary aren’t left behind
- What we can do to better support the LGBT+ community
What does pride month mean to you?
For Luke, it really demonstrates the value of visibility and it makes him smile. Literally it’s about feeling proud! Jess observes that seeing the rainbow sign everywhere makes you feel like you’re the norm, not the minority, and it feels safe to be out.
We remember that Pride has evolved from a riot to a protest to a celebration, albeit it’s become more corporate in recent years. Potential for it to go back the other way towards a protest and a push for more change?
As members of the “L” and “G” in LGBT+, Luke and Jess reflect on whether they are now in a privileged position and stress the responsibility they now have to support other parts of the community.
Impact of attitudes
Bringing your whole self to work – or maybe not the bit about being bad at washing up (if you’re Luke)! But to able to be yourself is essential: if you’re constantly in threat mode about what people think, it’s clear you will have less mental space to deliver great work. In Luke’s early career there was a lack of visible role models, which made it unclear if it was ok to talk about being gay openly.
Jess reflects on the power of the LGBT+ network, which showed her there were others just like her and literally opened up a network of support and role models.
Views on industry networks?
O:Pen is a network for members of the LGBT+ community in the pensions industry, which launched over last year. The three events so far have centred around social networking to build a community. Seeing people like yourselves makes you happy and you realise you’re not the only one anymore.
LGBT Great is a network for the investment and savings industry – and in particular Project 1000 highlights allies and role models.
Impact of lockdown? Actually very positive. Possibly accelerated by Black Lives Matter movement or by lockdown meaning we’re at home, with more time on our hands? Jess has seen much more engagement internally on D&I issues at LCP than before. Conversations have reached another level and she’s been pleased but surprised with the continued appetite for virtual socials.
Mary reflects on joining an O:Pen event and being in the minority. Having this conversation can feel a bit uncomfortable, but we’re getting used to it, and should approach with curiosity.
Putting pronouns in email signatures – this opens the conversation about gender identity and shows acceptance that you won’t pre-judge that for someone else. Luke describes it as a “green light” that says it’s ok to not be a cisgender heterosexual person.
Jess adds that it shows that being cis doesn’t need to be the norm. When she first added pronouns she got a lot of comments and questions, which were inconvenient but didn’t cause stress or damage, so she feels she should do it as an ally to someone non-binary (eg someone who’s pronouns are they / them).
What’s the next big thing?
Trans and non-binary inclusion. We’re all on a journey and don’t always get it right. There is a long way to go before we reach equal rights for trans and non-binary people. We discuss the difficulty of putting oneself in someone else’s shoes and that it takes time to get your head around how others may feel, particularly if it’s not something you’ve thought about before. The best way we found to describe it was a leap.
Luke encourages people to engage their curious brain. It’s ok not to understand, but need to accept that’s how other people feel. Educate yourself and be willing to get it wrong.
Gender identity – how to get more comfortable
- Look for / share really specific examples of allyship and how can help, eg pronouns explanation
- Being open about fact everyone still gets things wrong, even those who’ve thought a lot about this
- Lots of conversations
- Background material – recording a video explaining a specific concept? People can watch in their own time and space, reflect on it, and then speak to others about that video.
It’s about language – you should respect the language people use – eg if refer to “partner” that’s neutral – don’t respond with a gender specific description of their partner. If you don’t know how to speak in a gender neutral way, try thinking as if you’re speaking about a group (they / them etc).
Luke observes it is a two way street though – eg L or G being open or closed about gender of their partner depending on the room they’re in.
One thing to take away
From Jess: To allies – don’t be afraid of getting things wrong. To members of the LGBT+ community: you do belong.
From Luke: Remember the power of pronouns.
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