Celebrating Pride at Tide

Today marks the start of a month-long celebration of Pride here at Tide. 

We are proud to be a diverse group and so it’s hugely important that we take the time to celebrate people from all walks of life. This month we will be focussing on celebrating, understanding and supporting the LGBTQ+ community both within and outside of Tide.

We’d like to start by sharing some #PrideAtTide stories from our Culture Club….

Amani Rahman, Financial Crime Analyst

“Being of Indian origin, I became familiar with the word “Hijra” as being part of the punchline in a Hindi or Urdu joke.

The term is used in South Asian countries to describe transgender/intersex people, or those part of the “third gender”. The Hijra community has been marginalised since the 19th century, when the Indian subcontinent was under the control of the British. As a result of the colonial rule, laws were imposed to criminalise the Hijra people as they were deemed controversial simply for existing. Although these were repealed after independence from the British, the Hijra community still faces oppression and persecution today. 

The majority of the Hijra people do not have access to housing or healthcare. Fair employment is also not an option, which results in many Hijras resorting to sex work or begging in order to survive. The community is subjected to brutal physical and sexual violence, even at the hands of law enforcement authorities. 

However, the #PowerOfPride and the growing awareness of LGBTQ+ topics across the globe has meant that countries in South Asia are also taking strides to eradicate the stigma against the Hijra community. The “Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014” was passed in 2015. In the same year, India’s first openly transgender mayor, Madhu Bai Kinnar, was elected. Not long after, Dr Manabi Bandopadhyay was announced as the first trans college principal. 

I do believe that it’s necessary to recognise the contributions made by the gay liberation movement in the United States, with the much remembered Stonewall Uprising directly impacting the the fight for equal rights between all genders and sexualities.

This is my story for #PrideAtTide.”

Darren Bates-Hirst, VP People & Culture 

“Diversity and Inclusion should be at the core of everything we do, every day. I believe this, not only because it is the right thing to do or because I’m the VP of People and Culture here at Tide, but because I’m someone who is lucky enough to have met, fallen in love with and was “allowed” to marry the man of my dreams.

We mustn’t forget, this freedom is still not available to everyone. Love comes in many disguises; it will never look the same, nor should it, as love is unique and should never be judged. Living in the UK, and more specifically in London, has allowed me to be who I am with very little prejudice. I have never felt pressure to be forced into hiding or to pretend to be someone that I’m not. 

Sure, Pride is fun, colourful and showered in glitter and feather boas, but we should never forget that there are many people still persecuted, treated with disdain and are robbed of the freedom that I have. So many of us are forced to hide and are not able to be who we are: openly in love with the person of their dreams! So, while we all are swigging another mojito (those of us who are partial to a cocktail), keep that party going and keep fighting for what is right: equality for all!

This is my story for #PrideAtTide.”

Tom Jessop, KYC Analyst

“We all love football (right?!). Some more than others, I’ll admit! 

Each week, hundreds of millions of fans around the globe commute to their local grounds, fill bustling pubs, and sink into the grooves of their sofas to watch ‘the beautiful game’. The sport’s finest players are idolised by children and adults. Men and women. Straight and non-straight. 

Yet, scratch beneath its glossy surface and an ugly core is exposed. Of the 5,000-or-so professional male footballers currently playing in Britain, none are openly gay. Across the men and women’s game, only 10 professionals have come out since retiring. Even those suspected of being homosexual can be subjected to abuse and threats from fellow players and fans. 

Graeme Le Saux, who is married to a woman with whom he has children, considered quitting the sport he loved after receiving relentless homophobic abuse. Justin Fashanu was the first professional footballer to ‘come out’ when he did so in 1990. Passing comment on the deafening silence, Justin remarked, “We have a number of well-known footballers who are gay and they don’t feel comfortable with the environment.”Justin took his own life just 8 years later, at the age of 37. Accused of sexually assaulting a seventeen-year-old boy, he feared an unfair trial as a result of his sexuality. 

Not so beautiful now, ey?

The sport has come a long way in recent times. Hope Powell, England Women’s Head Coach between 1998-2013, was named in The Independent newspaper’s Pink List as one of the UK’s most influential lesbian and gay people. The Belfast Braves lead the way as the first lesbian football team in the UK. Several high-profile players in the women’s game have entered civil partnerships and married, once it became legal, in 2005 and 2015 respectively. 

There is plenty of evidence to suggest football is catching up to modern society. But it’s just as important to remind ourselves how far the sport has left to go. Football could be a such a great platform to change views around the world toward the LGBTQ+ community. It could be so much more than just a medium of entertainment, it could be a means of education and bringing people together around the world.

This is my story for #PrideAtTide.”

Loz Brown, Member Support Agent

Personally, I find it difficult to navigate through the maze of the western world where big brands commodify Pride to sell their products and promote themselves. I often think about how corporations have turned Pride in to a business, and in my view we don’t hear much about the political roots or ongoing hardship the community still faces everywhere.

Much like any kind of celebration for me, it’s important that I think about the cause and journey of something we commemorate, and although I understand there really is a great deal to celebrate on the topic of love without bias, people around the world still face an endless struggle. 

In my London bubble, it’s easy to forget that across the globe, laws are still being passed which seem drastic and brutal. As recently as two months ago in Brunei, a measure was introduced in which gay orientation can be punishable by death from stoning, which was described by the current Sultan as a ‘great achievement’, and in Kenya, people who enter a same sex relationship are legally considered second class citizens according to the High Court. 

Russia, the largest country in the world, introduced the ‘Gay-Propoganda-Law’ in 2013, and as a direct result, inforced a ban on same-sex couples adopting children, and even removing biological children from these couples too. This triggered a spate of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers who began the struggle of starting a new life in a different country to avoid losing loved ones and this struggle continues. 

In Japan, transgender individals are officially recognised as having a mental health problem. In some cases people who require legal acceptance of a new gender, must first undergo the ‘Gender Identity Disorder Special Cases Act’ which incidentally is not supported by the International human rights law. In January of this year, Japan’s Supreme Court continued to uphold this law which was passed in 2004 whereby a person wishing to change their gender, must first have their reproductive organs removed in a forced sterilisation, as part of the agreement to have further surgery. 

Concurrently, since 2017, President Donald Trump has urged the American Supreme Court to ban transgender people from working in the US Military. Although to this day, the law has not been finalised, 4 out of 5 Judges ruled in favour of this decision which could result in the loss of jobs for at the very least 1500 people working in this profession. 

Striking a balance between recognising the adversity and celebrating the triumphs is what Pride means to me. Even in my home town of London, the recent attack of two women by four men on public transport was commented on by BBC’s LGBTQ+ correspondent. ‘This attack is a shocking reminder that even in one of the world’s most accepting and celebrated cities, there is still work to be done to protect LGBTQ+ people from harm.’ – Ben Hunte”

This is my story for #PrideAtTide.”

Ash Hazell, Executive Assistant

Pride is about the love and acceptance of yourself, your family and your friends, no matter what sexuality you identify with.

Pride is also a continual reminder of what we still have to work for, being born in Australia, we finally legalised gay marriage in 2017 (about time!!!) – however, this week a sperm donor won a landmark case in stopping the child’s biological mother and her same sex partner from moving to New Zealand, citing that the donor is the child’s dad, holding more importance over the mother who has raised it.

The yearly celebration is so much more than just a celebration to me, it is a chance to remember all that the community have been through to get to where we are, and it provides  much needed inspiration to get us to where we need to be. There is so much more to be done, in Australia, the UK and all across the world.

This is my story for #PrideAtTide.”

Mel Roberts, Senior Talent Partner

“Pride isn’t just important, it’s necessary, and I’m thankful to be working for a company that wants to celebrate it. We want to celebrate the people behind Pride, who we’re celebrating for – the girls who love girls, the boys who love boys and those who love both! We’re a diverse bunch at Tide and we love it.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community are persecuted throughout the world, and we must stand together. I’m proud of who I am, but there were times in my teenage years where I feared the future and hid who I really was – my hope for future generations is that they won’t feel the need to do that. Safe spaces like Pride show people that it’s ok to be themselves. Being persecuted for who you love is ludicrous. We’re not abnormal. We’re not unnatural. Love is love, and love is natural. And that is why Pride is important – it’s a statement, a big, bright and colourful statement, and it is unmistakably proud.

This is my story for #PrideAtTide.”

Dragos Gavrilovici, Senior iOS Developer

Apple CEO, Tim Cook: “I’m Proud To Be Gay”. In 2014, Cook became the first chief executive of a Fortune 500 company to publicly come out as gay. Cook never denied his sexuality, but recently decided to publicly acknowledge it at conference, stating “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

Cook explained that he felt comfortable sharing his sexual orientation with his work colleagues at Apple, adding that he was “lucky” to work at a company that is accepting of him. He stated “Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me.” His statement reminds us that many in the LGBTQ+ community can be ‘unlucky’, and receive a negative backlash when they share their sexual orientation with their colleagues, friends, family or the public they interact with.   

The stories which motivated Cook to publically annouce his sexuality was those of the kids who were being bullied at home and school for their sexual preferences, “I started to receive stories from kids who read online that I was gay. They were being bullied, feeling like their family didn’t love them, being pushed out of their home, very close to suicide. Just things that really pulled on my heart. I started saying, ‘You know, I am a private person. I’ve kept me to my small circle.’ and I started thinking, ‘That is a selfish thing to do at this point. I need to be bigger than that, I need to do something for them and show them that you can be gay and go on and do some big jobs in life.” 

“As one of the ‘out’ leaders of one of the major companies, not just in the country, but in the world, Cook set an example for other people to help LGBTQ+ people, and especially LGBTQ+ youth, to thrive in our society,” says Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a senior attorney at Lambda Legal, a national LGBTQ+ civil rights advocacy organisation. “He’s sending a communication of hope, belief and optimism that we can strive for a society where we can all become CEOs and become great professionals and contributors to society no matter who we are,” Gonzalez-Pagan says. “That’s a value he has set as a leader.” 

When Cook was asked if he had any regrets about revealing this part of his life, Cook simply affirmed: “No regrets.” It’s amazing that he has successfully steered Apple by navigating geo-political and business affairs, yet remains such a personable and decent person. His position on privacy is the right one. Personally, gay or straight, I’m proud to use Apple products with a CEO like Tim Cook running the show. I’m also proud to support a company where it is possible for a gay man to become boss. Cook is one of the greatest leaders of our time. 

This is my story for #PrideAtTide.”

Ester Sánchez del Río, Talent Administrator 

Pride is a safe place and an open door for many of us. As part of the LGBTQ+ community, I feel really lucky to come from a place and to live in a part of this world where I can be my true self and where we can all celebrate what makes us different. Pride is not just about celebrating, it gives us the opportunity to raise our voices and fight for those who aren’t able to – it’s important to remember that this day wasn’t born of a need to celebrate, but of our right to live without discrimination and persecution.  

If there’s an adjective that clearly describes Tide, it’s diverse. We’re a bunch of people from different parts of the world, genders, religions, sexual and identity orientations and cultures. As we get ready to celebrate Pride at Tide, it’s amazing to see everybody so excited about it and keen to contribute in some way, whether they are part of the LGBTQ+ community or not. Celebrations like this are what make us more human and brings us closer. 

This is my story for #PrideAtTide.”

Pride means something different to each of us, and we hope that sharing our stories will help us to understand each other a little better and to help us start conversations with each other that we may not have had before.

Keep an eye on our social channels during this month, we’ll be sharing some of our amazing members who advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and our internal Tide initiatives to show our support.