My employer announced very recently in a very public forum that they were going to be disconnecting from Stonewall as they developed their own in-house EDI leadership. This immediately set off a storm of homophobic and transphobic abuse and crowing on social media, which was made all the worse because this was the first that the various staff support networks had heard of it. Needless to say there are a lot of hurt and upset people, and a large number of very vocal and passionate meetings are being held. Others are better placed to have those arguments about how to proceed, so a colleague and I who are part of one of those networks have been reaching out to people in our service who were at the meeting to offer support and to offer confidential support to those who are not comfortable speaking publicly.
As with most things like this, the decision lies in the complicated crux of politics and business logic, but damningly it seems to have been done with a naivete about the message being sent to the wider world, and to the staff who had in recent years been beginning to trust their employer. I have at times been fighting back tears of incoherent rage both for my sake, and on behalf of the people I manage and work alongside faced with the enormity of the hate that this move has enabled, and I and my colleague are carefully monitoring and offering support to each other – and thankfully are being in turn supported by both our management and the people we work with. That has been the saving grace I think in the last couple of days – that the overwhelming majority of people in the service are supportive of the whole LGBTQ+ community and are equally shocked by this move – especially so soon after Pride.
There’s a lot of processing and pointed awkward questions now going on; and there has at least been a recognition of the hurt caused and an understanding of just how badly this has gone. That doesn’t erase it, but it does give us somewhere to start in working out where we move on from this point.
I am saddened, and the black dog has been barking loudly in response to all this, but tomorrow is nearly here, and there’s work to be done. As ever I am minded of the question: If you don’t move to work on this, when who else will? Representation isn’t just for the nice things in life, and I’ve got my sleeves rolled up.