4th July 2016
It was with the sad scenes of Orlando echoing that I set off early on Saturday 25 June to join an exuberant group of over 150 Virgin employees from Virgin Trains, Virgin Money, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Holiday, Virgin Care, Virgin Active and of course our very own Virgin Media at London’s Pride parade.
In true Virgin spirit we started the day in style with a pre-parade breakfast on the rooftops of Virgin HQ, against the backdrop of a huge rainbow flag which could be seen from the elevated A40 into London for miles around.
The sun was shining, and as we all gathered together to eat, drink and make new friends, I could tell it was going to be a very special day. Not least when our old friend La Voix (Britain’s Got Talent, and now featuring in the new Ab Fab movie) turned up to join us for a sneaky glass of champers before heading off to the Pride Stage where she was headlining the festival.
T-shirts on, garlands round our necks, whistles, streamers, flags and face paints at the ready the Virgin team then travelled down to the parade. We were expecting showers– but we were lucky it didn’t rain on our parade (the showers came later in the day!)
As we lined up among the 300 other organisations taking part the sense of excitement grew and grew and finally we were off. Down Regents Street, through Piccadilly Circus, all the way down to the Northern Embankment, the crowds cheering us on lined the streets – it was an amazing atmosphere.
Being Virgin we couldn’t just stop the party at the end of the parade so we ended the day with a big group gathering and picnic in the nearby park – the rain showers and thunder and lightning not putting anyone off at all – that’s what the rainbow umbrellas were for after all!
I reflect back on last year’s Pride which I also attended and remember hearing far more comments around ‘why no straight pride?’, or ‘do we really need Pride anymore?’ This year was different, I think Orlando reminded us all that LGBT people around the world and even still here in the UK, can still face exclusion and persecution.
The positive spirit of the parade was our opportunity to raise our voice in peace and hope, while remembering there is still much progress to be made. That’s why I’m really glad to see that, up and down the country, our people are coming together to support Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow Pride events too.
It doesn’t stop here for Virgin Media however – I’m really pleased to be leading the formation of our first internal LGBT employee network helping our LGBT colleagues and live and breathe the Virgin spirit by empowering everyone to bring their true self to work, celebrating our LGBT diversity with pride. This is a key part of our More Inclusive five year sustainability goal.