Not only is this weekend the annual London Pride celebration, with LGBTQ+ people and allies celebrating being out and proud across the capital, but 2019 marks #Stonewall50 – half a century since the Stonewall Riots – a defining moment in the battle for LGBTQ+ rights, often cited as the first Pride March.
As a society, we have come a long way in both representation of and equality for LGBTQ+ people, allowing many people to live their life, unapologetically, as themselves.
Advertising and the creative industries always appear to be at the forefront of diversity and equality, especially in recent years. We have asked a few Clearcasters to talk about what being out, both at Clearcast and in the industry itself, means to them. We were given a range of stories from several perspectives which we’d like to share with you today:
Cass Briscoe – PA to MD
I’ve worked in advertising for over a decade, and I find the industry to be an open and original space that encourages everyone to be themselves and foster creativity. As such I’ve witnessed a strong LGBTQ+ representation almost everywhere I’ve worked, which I think is wonderful, and I am grateful for those that have paved the way to increased acceptance and inclusivity today.
I don’t think many of my colleagues are even aware that I’m bisexual and I think that is due in part to the fact that I’ve never felt anything other than free to be myself, especially at Clearcast. I am aware that I am far more privileged than many, but am grateful to work in an industry that embraces the differences that make us all who we are.
That being said, there is still lots of work to be done even in our industry, so I hope that together we can work towards equality for all – because nobody is free until everybody is.
Chris Mundy – Managing Director
I came out late at 38, having been married in the traditional sense and it took a little while after that for me to come out at work. It’s hard to explain the effect of being “closeted”. You self-censor and can’t be yourself. When you’re asked a simple question like “how was your weekend?”, you find yourself carefully using language, so saying ‘partner’ instead of ‘boyfriend’ and closing yourself down a little. When you do that, you’re not presenting the person that you really are. The feedback I received was that I was a hard person to get to know, and I processed that as being someone that was uninteresting.
Coming out was a liberating experience. For the first time I could genuinely express who I was, how I spent my life and the general joys and tribulations of being a human being. I’m fortunate that I came out at the BBC which was a safe and welcoming environment to do so. When I joined Clearcast and introduced myself to the team at an all staff meeting, I made sure that being gay was part of the life story that I shared about myself. I feel that as a gay business leader you have a responsibility to be a role model for others that may be considering whether it’s safe to come out.
There’s lots of research that shows that people that are comfortable to be out at work are happier and both they and the companies they work for perform better. I’d recommend John Browne’s book ”The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out Is Good Business” to learn more. Also check out PrideAM, a group working to promote fair and accurate representation of LGBTQ people in advertising and marketing communications as well as promoting an open and inclusive environment in the industry. They have just published Outvertising 2019 which outlines the business and ethical case for authentically embracing LGBTQ in advertising.
Adam Amini – HR & Office Executive
I was very lucky to be accepted by my friends and family when I came out: a definite sign of progress in the right direction. This allowed me to grow and be more open with the people around me, normalising being gay for myself and, I hope, other people too.
There are many workplaces, even today, where people feel pressured into not being open about who they are – I am happy that Clearcast is not one of them. I am accepted and able to be myself, and I think the same goes for many companies across our industry, which is making steps with LGBTQ+ representation in all areas.
It’s encouraging to see so much of the industry taking part in Pride and representing LGBTQ+ people, and I think it’s important that companies continue to be allies all year round and not just for Pride month. This fosters an environment where people feel safe and comfortable to be themselves – an environment I’m happy to be a part of here at Clearcast.
This Pride, we encourage everyone to listen to the points of view of people across the LGBTQ+ community. These varied perspectives from Clearcast are only a tiny fraction of the many voices across the community and the more their stories are told, the easier it becomes for people to be out, accepted and themselves.
Happy Pride from everyone at Clearcast!