Image for Arc on Pride

Arc on Pride

The Pride movement began as a way of commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Riots, when members of the gay community took to New York’s streets in protest against a raid on the Stonewall Inn. The underground gay club was operating at a time when homosexual acts were illegal in every state except Illinois, and liquor laws prohibited the serving of alcohol to gay men and women.

It was in the early hours of 28th June when police raided the bar for not having a liquor licence, arresting its staff and guests. Aggravated and upset by the constant discrimination, the community took to the streets in protests that continued across five turbulent days. Although they weren’t the first protests against the police, they were arguably the most impactful; the Riots are now seen as the catalyst for the modern gay rights movement.

Exactly a year later, the first Gay Pride parade took place from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park, however, the community had to wait another 34 years for sexual acts between persons of the same sex to become legalised across every state within the USA.

The Stonewall Inn

Image Credit: Redux

In the UK, same sex relationships had been partially legalised in 1967, and the first Gay Pride march took place in 1972 in London with over 2,000 people in attendance.

This year there are over 180 Pride marches planned in the UK and Ireland.

Arc’s LGBTQIA+ Team Members

During the 2022 Pride month, we asked our team members who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community to share their experiences, the good and the bad, and how they raise up to the challenges and overcome them. We believe it’s important to share our experiences so we can educate those around us and learn how we can do more to support members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

We’re aware that Pride month is an opportunity to celebrate our LGBTQIA+ colleagues, but we also think it’s important to acknowledge that there is still a lot of work to do to make all people feel welcome and included in the workplace and in society. Arc loves you for you and we have a zero tolerance approach to bullying and harassment. That’s why we are releasing this blog post in September, to show our support to our LGBTQIA+ colleagues throughout the year.

As an organisation, we love you for you and want all our team members to feel as valued, heard, and comfortable as you are. Below are entries from some of you who consented to share your experiences. To Michael, Olivia, Billie and one anonymous team member, we thank you for bravely sharing your experiences, and we hope we can make more people aware of what people in the LGBTQIA+ community go through, and how we can be better allies.

Michael’s Experience

‘In a work room of one of my shifts there was a TV, in a break a show came on that involved 2 men kissing. 2 arc employees walked over and changed the channel, before both laughing and discussing how wrong it was. As an LGBT+ man this made me deeply uncomfortable to work with them – especially when they began to loudly discuss in misogynistic ways the women they were speaking to. I didn’t say anything as the atmosphere was not one that I would’ve felt comfortable doing so.’

What That Teaches Us

Sometimes you need to make the call if speaking up is the right thing to do, or if you would be putting yourself into a potentially risky situation. You need to remember that staying safe is always a priority. And while the behaviour of others is out of our control, we can choose not to engage with them. If you hear someone discussing something you don’t agree with, but don’t feel safe confronting them head-on, you can always report it to the supervisors. The majority of our clients have zero-tolerance policies on discrimination, bullying or harassment, and they must provide you with a safe working environment.

If you don’t feel comfortable discussing this with the client directly on site, you can always come to us at Arc where we will listen and investigate for you. We are taking a strong stand on any discriminatory behaviour and have a zero-tolerance policy on such things. Some of our People Operations team are also trained on Mental-Health First-Aid, and you can reach out to them with anything that troubles you.

Olivia’s Experience

‘I am very lucky that I have an amazing supportive family who loves me for me. They love me for who I am and didn’t treat me any differently when I told them that I was bisexual. I am also lucky that I have not had many bad experiences that some of us have had. I have had people in the past who have said that me being bi was just a faze, bisexuals do not exist, well aren’t you just being greedy and but you have a boyfriend.’

What advice would you give to those witnessing or experiencing a similar situation?

‘Speak up when you see someone being put down or disregarded. Say to them I am here for you and support you.’

What That Teaches Us

Being bisexual is often misunderstood by people outside of the LGBTQIA+ community. While the fact saddens me, it is never your responsibility to educate others and have to defend your preferences/the way you are. Their inability to understand that bisexual people are attracted to more than one gender doesn’t give them a pass to make fun of it or deny their existence. We can all learn to be kinder and more understanding of one another, but most importantly, to educate ourselves on the topic before we share our input.

Billie’s Experience

‘I was misgendered on a particular shift by multiple senior colleagues who automatically presumed my gender and kept calling me “she” instead of “he”. I ended up correcting them then explaining the situation. they profusely apologised and said it wouldn’t happen again.’

What Advice Would You Give to Those Witnessing or Experiencing a Similar Situation?

‘Always ask for names and pronouns so you don’t offend anyone who you’re working with and don’t just assume anyone’s gender based on how they’re presenting to you at that moment in time.’

What That Teaches Us

If you are ever in doubt about how you should address someone, you can introduce yourself and then add “my pronouns are X/Y, what about you?” No one will find it offensive, and they will most likely appreciate you taking the first step to making them know you understand they may identify differently with what you perception is.

Unnamed Team Member’s Experience

‘At the start of 2020 in the first lockdown I made a couple of online friends and I realised I caught feelings for her. I was in denial for so long but I spoke to one of my close friends about it and she helped me discover. After a while I soon discovered that I was bisexual and I only told my close friends, scared of how my parents would react.

‘Then in 2021 I was on a walk with my mum and her friend and they were talking about LGBTQ+ stuff and I decided to have a input and educate them more as I kinda new a little bit more. Once me and my mum got home we told my dad what we were talking about on the walk and I mentioned a few other things about the LGBTQ+ community and my dad turned around and said “you’re seeming very interested in this, are you trying to tell us something”. I replied with “no” because I wasn’t yet ready to come out, I still have small subtle hints like painting the flag colours but make it seem natural and everything.

‘My dad asked me if I liked guys which I responded with yes, he asked if I liked females and I took a pause before answering with yes. That’s when the awkward conversation started and my dad being my father asked “name someone from each gender you like”. I was a bit taken back because I found it difficult to try and think if people at the top of my head but I can probably now name at least 3 people I have a crush on. Anyway after this awkward conversation everything went fine, well that’s what I thought. I came out to my sister probably a month before I came out to my parents. I found out from my sister that my parents just think it’s a phase and I’ll get over it and it’s all because of social media.

‘Well I would like to point out I now have a girlfriend who I have been dating for 5 months now and I’m too scared to tell my parents on how they will react, to add to all this it’s also a long distance relationship, I live in Scotland while she lives in Wales. My sister and my friends know but I’m scared on how my parents would react after apparently my mum and dad thinking it’s just a phase.

‘Overall this made me feel pretty crappy about myself as they clearly lied to me and said they “supported” and “proud” of me to only go behind my back and tell my sister something completely different. My sister and my friends all support my relationship and I’m happy with that, I have my sister and my friends to help me through this. Also a small fun fact one of my friends already knew I was bi before I even knew cause apparently it was the way I was looking at some people on how she knew.’

What Advice Would You Give to Those Witnessing or Experiencing a Similar Situation?

‘If you’re going through something similar my advice would just be, don’t care what other people think. Do what makes you happy. That’s what I’ve been told, yes I’m keeping the relationship secret but I’ve started hinting that I have made a “friend” from Wales. Yes okay if your parents don’t quite support I can see why that can be difficult but they are your parents but it’s your life and you shouldn’t let people get in your way of what is part of you. Don’t feel ashamed of who or what you are, people need to learn to grow up because it’s 2022 now and life is so much better than it was 6 years ago. Be you and be proud to be yourself.’

What That Teaches Us

Coming out can be one big scary event if you don’t feel supported by the people you are close to. However, unless it is a toxic or otherwise harmful relationship (which you need to leave asap), open communication usually works wonders. By being frank with the people you care about, you will give them the opportunity to show you their support. And if they won’t support you coming out, you can always ask yourself if they are the people who have your best interest in mind.

We hope that by seeing other people’s experiences you get a better understanding of what people in the LGBTQIA+ community go through, and how you can support them. We at Arc love you for you, and always encourage you to bring your whole self to wherever you go. You can rest assured we will have your back in case of any discrimination happens, and we hope you would feel comfortable reaching out to us in such circumstance. You can read more about our Diversity & Inclusion promise and initiatives on our website: