We asked colleagues across the business for their favourite Pride memories - and about what Pride Month means to them

Throughout June, Pride Month is celebrated in countries around the world. Started in the United States, it was established to honour the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in that country. In recent years, it has become a celebration of the rich diversity of LGBTQ+ communities, their families, friends and allies.

This year, as last, many Pride marches aren't going ahead in June because of Covid-19. To mark the moment, however, we asked colleagues about their favourite Pride memories, and about what celebrating means to them.

John Denton – Digital Strategy Manager, Technology – Digital

I am old enough to recall when a Pride march was still one of sober banner-waving and shouting for our rights. [I remember] marching against Section 28 through the centre of my home town, Manchester, it would have been 1988/89, and how a passing shopper spat in my face, telling us to get off the streets. [I remember] when my parents would say 'It's fine son, but you don't need to shout about it'. So Pride means so much to me. It's one of the few times when LGBT+ in their thousands take over the streets – and with this comes solidarity and a feeling of exhilaration as you realise you are able to be your true self.

From sober marches, Pride has become a celebration of how far we've come in many countries, but I recall those events just 30 years ago, and know that we need to achieve equality for everyone around the world. So when I march now, it's recognising the fight still goes on. However, it's balanced with so many happy memories of sun-filled days, less sober occasions and being surrounded by friends and our extended family who join you on the streets to march with pride!

Thomas Duecke - MD Operations, Global

The way I celebrate Pride has changed a lot over the years, but the one constant thing has always been the company of my friends, both from the LGBTQ+ community and those who support the cause. I am really lucky to have had the chance to celebrate Pride in many different countries and make so many incredible memories.

But Pride Month is also a time of reflection. I am grateful to those who came before me and fought to make a difference so that many LGBTQ+ people today can lead their lives with dignity and pride. And I also think of how much work we still must do, as so many people around the world don't enjoy the same level of freedom yet.

Beth McKenzie - Customer Resolutions Team, Enterprise

Pride Month to me is about celebrating who I am as part of a wider community. I grew up feeling very isolated and lonely due to my sexuality and interacting with the LGBT+ community has been a massively healing experience. I remember at my first Pride I cried the whole time out of pure gratitude and happiness from the overwhelming support and positivity. Since then, I've taken part in lots of LGBT+ community events and even helped organise some local Pride events. It's something I look forward to every time.

Matthew Watson – Team Leader, Plusnet (Consumer)

I have so many memories of Pride that are great. One of the recent ones was being involved in the Drag Bingo for BT for last year's digital Pride. It was a great experience to see so many faces from the BT world having fun and celebrating despite being in lockdown.

Pride is one of my favourite times of the year. I get to see all of my friends from around the country and further afield as we all attend Manchester's Pride big weekend. It's a lot of partying and celebration but a great catch up, and a chance to remember the friends we have lost and celebrate their lives and how much joy and life they brought. Whatever is happening around the world this year, I hope everyone has a happy Pride Month. Love, Gina Tonic.

Lindsay Grant - Senior Product Manager BT Ireland, Enterprise

I usually march in the parade as I've been doing for many years now as it's a great way to connect with friends and with groups I am a member of or support. I've also been delighted to accompany a BT Ireland contingent of LGBTQI+ and allies in two parades. It reminds me of how far we've come and how far we still have to go for equal human rights. A recent favourite memory is seeing a young girl coming up and happily petting the group of 'human pups' who were marching in the parade – no judgement, no fear, just curiosity and acceptance!

Pride is a chance to celebrate and participate in events that show the diversity of our community in its widest sense and support those who are still marginalised. It's still a protest for me as well as a celebration as we remember those who have gone before and to whom we owe much gratitude and respect. We need to continue to highlight the inequalities that exist, whether they be in the areas of equality and non-discrimination, family, hate crime, legal gender recognition and bodily integrity or asylum.

Souravi Sarkar - Risk Compliance Assurance Manager, Technology - Digital

I celebrated Pride Month with my friends, for the first time, this year. We've created a community of friends which includes both queer and non-queer folks. We have shared articles and videos to educate ourselves on topics such as sexuality, gender and pronouns. We also discussed therapy for queer folks and how we should teach our children about LGBT+. Our queer friends shared their own personal experiences of coming out. We laughed about certain things that have happened in their lives which are kind of endearing but silly like introducing a friend at the party saying "this is Neha and she is gay". So, the dos and don'ts.

I come from India, which is comparatively a much more conservative country, so commercial movies on LGBT+ communities are often banned, gay marriage is not yet legal, and celebrating Pride Month comes with a lot of backlash. So, I try my best to educate people through social media. I'm also trying to teach my parents. I am glad they try to learn and understand, and I hope I get to celebrate Pride Month some day with them.

For me, Pride means "love is love". It's symbolic of hope and acceptance for who we are. The LGBT+ community has been through a lot, and although we have Pride Month, we should celebrate them every day for their courage, tenacity and willpower. They deserve our respect, love and everything that is good. Each Pride Month, I strive to become a better ally. I have queer friends, so I want to become a better support system for them so that they feel safe.

Charley Reay - billing analyst, EE (Consumer)

The most important thing that I do to celebrate Pride Month is to march in my local Pride parade – Northumberland Pride! My favourite memory is performing for the first time at Northern Pride with Northern Proud Voices, a queer community choir based in Newcastle.

Pride for me is a celebration of our hard-earned rights and freedoms, a defiant rebellion to those who think we should keep our love quiet. A bright colourful beacon to those who might be struggling with their identity that IT GETS BETTER.

Samantha Toombs - Director, Wales & South West, Corporate & Public Sector Enterprise

Pride will mean different things to different people. It can be both a joyful celebration and a serious political reminder that LGBTQ+ people across the world are still fighting for equal rights.

Whatever your views, I think there is no better time to celebrate diversity, to support your LGBTQ+ colleagues, family and friends and let them know you see them.

Normally at this time of year, I'd be attending Cardiff Pride, aka Pride Cymru, but alas the pandemic has put a stop to mass celebration. In the meantime, here's a picture from the last Pride Cymru I attended: the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, and his Welsh Parliament ministers, proudly leading the parade.

BT colleague (anonymous)

This Pride Month I'm leaning into 'cottagecore' gay and learning to press flowers, make elderflower cordial and forage in my local area. Pride Month is a great chance for me to focus my learning on lots of things: historical Pride movements and the wonderful and diverse individuals that fought and fight for the rights we have today; fantastic members of the LGBTQA+ community; increasing the queer content I consume; and challenging and deepening my understanding of the current challenges and diversity of thought in the Pride community across the world.

BT colleague (anonymous)

I have actually only ever been to one Pride while being "out", which was the London Pride 2018. Being from Manchester and travelling to do this was pretty cool; my brother who is also gay joined me. We had such a great time walking the parade route as part of BT and it really felt like you were part of something special.

The month of Pride for me is about awareness and sharing the history of Pride, teaching our children and others. It's also a great time for the community and allies to join together and celebrate; it's always a special time.

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