It’s no understatement to say that life as a gay man is easier than it was 20 years ago.
When I first came out, I was the first person to do so at my school and it was a big thing. These days, people are far more relaxed and are, generally speaking, more likely to say ‘so what?’ when somebody comes out, and that’s exactly how it should be.
There have been huge steps forward made over the decades: homosexuality was illegal in England until 1967 and after that the age of consent was 21, then it was reduced to 18 in the 1990s before it was lowered to 16 in 2000 – the same as everybody else. Then came the introduction 10 years ago of a law that would allow same sex couples to get married – something that was unimaginable a generation earlier.
Changing attitudes are as welcome as they are overdue but there is so much more to be done before we can claim to live in a fully diverse, inclusive society. That’s why the Pride movement is so crucially important.
I’m delighted that People’s Partnership, which with more than 800 employees is one of the borough’s largest employers, is a sponsor of the second ever Crawley Pride, to be held in Goffs Park on Saturday 19 August.
It feels fantastic to work for an organisation taking part in the parade and celebrations. As a Crawley person, it means a lot that I will be representing a local institution, on such an important day.
I’m beyond proud of the fact that my town is having its own celebration of LGTBQIA+ culture and that our company and many brilliant colleagues will be so involved. I feel very lucky to work for an organisation that is not only very supportive of its workforce but is genuinely committed to supporting the wider community.
We have a network of employee representative groups that enable staff to have their voices heard on a wide range of issues and contribute to making positive changes where they are needed. I lead the company’s vibrant LGTBQIA+ group, which has helped organise our involvement in Crawley Pride.
We’ve helped design banners and t-shirts for the event, and I can’t wait to see the excitement on the team’s faces when we take part.
I’m a great believer in the mantra that love is love and I genuinely do believe that an increasing number of people now share that view, but we can’t get too carried away as there is still so much prejudice in wider society.
Events like Crawley Pride are so important in breaking down the barriers that minority groups still face today so we hope to see you there.
Jay Unwin, Co-lead of People’s Partnership’s LGBTQIA+ Employee Representative Group.