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Category: Pride Month, LGBTQ+, Pride Network, Pride 2021, LGBTQ+ Inclusion
June is Pride month and in the second of our series of articles we hear from Charlie and Jo, co-chairs of the Pride employee network.
The Pride network formed in July last year and consists of members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. They meet monthly to support each other and discuss different topics and issues that concern the LGBTQ+ community. It is chaired by Charlie Truman and Jo Broadhead and we put a few questions to them to find out more.
Why did you both volunteer to become chairs of the Pride network?
Jo: Charlie and I were previously part of the charity team in Oldbury and worked well together and knew we would be a good fit to lead the network.
Charlie: Yeah, as we’ve worked together before we both knew what we could bring to the table and it felt like a good opportunity to bring our own perspectives to support the network.
What are the aims of the Network and can anyone join?
Charlie: We want to raise awareness first and foremost, and provide a safe space for all our LGBTQ+ colleagues and we actively encourage allies too – it’s important that all are welcome.
Jo: We want colleagues old and new to know that they are supported and accepted. We want to modernise processes within the AA with gender neutral language and trans inclusive behaviours. We want to ensure the execs are always working in consideration of our community. We want to grow the AA’s presence in Pride parades around the country.
Charlie: There’s a lot happening in the media in terms of trans rights and while those in the community may be fully aware of what is happening we realise that this may not be the case for others.
The network started in July last year, do you think that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the network?
Charlie: With our meetings, not so much. Because our members are all across the country we’ve gotten used to our virtual teams meetings and having a nice catchup. But we’ve definitely felt the effects with what we can do. Not being able to attend any pride events and having to keep everything virtual has limited things for us, but at the same time it’s forced us to think outside the box more with what we do within the network.
Jo: All around the country and across the world, pride events were cancelled because of Covid. Of course, as the Pride network, we cannot wait to start attending pride events again and we are looking to be part of Birmingham Pride in September (fingers crossed it goes ahead). Working virtually has actually been good in some ways because we have been able to chat to colleagues in Basingstoke, Cardiff, Oldbury, Newcastle and Cheadle - which is amazing!!
What is your favourite part of Pride events and what’s the best one you’ve been too?
Jo: It isn’t always easy walking down the street as a gay woman. Over the years, I have experienced countless unprovoked verbal attacks just for holding my partner’s hand or looking the way I do. So, my favourite part of pride is walking through the gates, looking around and seeing our community together, celebrating in a safe space; there’s a deep breath you take because for the first time in a year you can truly, fully relax.
Birmingham is my hometown pride, last year would have been the 13th year running I attended, but I’ve also been to some incredible events across the country (such as Manchester, Brighton and London), so it’s hard to pick just one.
Charlie: Just seeing people being so happy and feeling safe. Admittedly I’ve only been able to go a few times but the best time will always be my first time. I was fifteen, I wasn’t out to anybody except for my high school best friend who also came with me. I was nervous at first but the energy was so contagious, I felt at home immediately.
I ended up seeing a relative there who had come out a year earlier and after that day she ended up being the first family member I came out to so it’ll always be special for that reason.
Why is Pride month so important?
Jo: The first pride was a riot, where countless LGBTQ+ people fought for the right to be treated equally. It is so important to remember our history and the queer community who came before us – we shouldn’t take it for granted. Remembering this every year and celebrating our queer identities in a safe space is so important. But it is also important to remember that our struggles aren’t over – we are only just beginning to find good representation in the media and in the public, and especially our trans and non-binary friends and QPOC (Queer People Of Colour) are still being killed, harassed and fighting for basic human rights. We have to keep fighting and staying visible.
Charlie: I could probably write an essay on the history of Pride and how important it is to remember how it all began and that we honour those who came before and fought for the rights we have today, and how important it is to continue that journey for the rights that we still don’t have. Pride will always be important because It’s a chance to be yourself with no fear, to be around people like yourself and no matter our backgrounds can all come together to celebrate who we are.
Charlie Truman and Jo Broadhead