Here at Comic Relief we are proud to have been supporting LGBT+ projects for 25 years on a range of different issues, such as tackling discrimination and providing mental health support. To celebrate this year’s Pride, two members of our Grants team have shared their experience of being LGBT at Comic Relief.
I’m Sue and I work in the Grants team at Comic Relief. I really value working for an organisation which celebrates diversity and where sexuality is not an issue. I grew up during the years of Section 28 when being gay just wasn't really talked about. As a result I have consciously chosen to work in organisations where I don't have to hide who I am - that's so tiring! There are a number of openly LGBT+ staff at Comic Relief and it is affirming to work with other people who are like you.
I am really delighted that Comic Relief has chosen to support Pride this year through an event at Facebook on Friday. It sends out a really clear message that the ‘just world’ part of our vision is as important as a world free from poverty. I am also conscious that my experience at work is not shared by everyone – many people who work in sectors that are less inclusive, or perhaps outside metropolitan areas, still face discrimination. Comic Relief is in a brilliant position to highlight and challenge this inequality.
In terms of what else Comic Relief could do, I hope that we continue to build on the relationship with Pride and get involved in London (or other) Pride campaign(s) again next year.
I’m Mike and I work as the Senior Grants Operations Manager at Comic Relief, looking after our processes and systems for making and managing grants. I was asked to talk about my experience from an LGBT point of view working at Comic Relief. Personally, I’ve found that quite difficult because I’m not sure how it would be any different from anyone else’s experience at Comic Relief. I’ve certainly never experienced any discrimination here and (unlike my bank last week) I don’t even have colleagues automatically assuming my partner is a woman.
That’s not always been my experience at work - I spent my university summer breaks making paint in a factory in Lancashire which was definitely not, at that time, an LGBT-friendly environment. I certainly didn’t feel comfortable or able to talk about myself honestly there and that’s a horrible position to be in. And a few years later down in London my boss was literally speechless when we he found out I liked men, although by that stage I felt able to laugh at how ridiculous he was. Both those experiences were over 15 years ago – since then I’ve been fortunate to work for some great places where my sexuality isn’t an issue. That’s likely a reflection of working in charity and public sectors in London and I’m certain some of my previous experiences will still resonate with what people live through today in the UK.
I hope that it won’t take another 50 years for this to change in our country. And that we can help change attitudes around the world so that people everywhere don’t live in fear and can be open about who they are and who they love.