Still Proud

Headshot of Hilary Stephenson

Managing Director

2 minute read

A celebration as the rainbows fade and call to our local community to keep going

This year, possibly more than in recent annual Pride month celebrations, there was a palpable tension between organisations showing their support, and criticism from those claiming it's all just corporate rainbow-washing. There is also a binfire raging on social media from people who simply can't tolerate the flags, or those aggressively seeking to cut letters from the "alphabet mafia".

In the face of all that, some social media teams, diversity and inclusion leads and employee resource groups might simply have concluded "why bother?". When MPs are spending too much time raging about multi-coloured (paint) coats, who'd stand up, or out, as a brand?

Disclosure: we light up our social media branding annually to show our continued love and support for our LGBTQ+ colleagues, clients and community.

(And with the recent news about Twitter's X-based 'rebrand', it also feels like we might need to rethink our logo...)

The progress flag as a background a white X logo

An acknowledgement alone isn't enough though. Similar to how organisations promoting International Women's Day are increasingly called upon to show their gender pay gap data, we want to mark a day, event, or season, but in a way that also demonstrates a tangible impact. So, as a practical show of support, and to help others think about what they might do, we have focused on a few things this last few weeks and months, and we have more to come to show we are still proud, as the rainbows fade.

Firstly, we have been supporting Diversity Role Models since the charity was formed in 2011. This includes helping them with the branding and their website, which we are currently refreshing and hope to relaunch soon. I have also been a proud volunteer for them, as a role model and facilitator. In June, I was able to do this in a series of school workshops, where I explain who is in my family. It's that simple, but the misrepresentation of the content in an educational setting is making things increasingly hard for organisations like DRM, and the volunteers who share their stories so openly to encourage compassion and understanding. We will continue to offer our support as a team to help them weather the storm.

At our annual Camp Digital event last week, a running theme was inclusion in research and challenging bias in data. This was largely focused on the need to research, design, test and validate products and services with those who need and understand them most, which are the underrepresented communities often deemed "hard to reach" or difficult to engage. If you look at the work of people like Bob Green OBE has instrumented at Tonic Housing, services and policy can be shaped around the needs of specific communities, taking pride into purpose (Tonic: A Fresh Approach to LGBT Older Living When designing products and services for our clients, we will continue to think about who informs the research, what does co-design mean in practical terms, and how do we ensure we arent excluding people whose needs and experience may be very different to our own.

This applies across all sectors, where we can be intentional in our user research and user experience work. The best example we heard on this in recent years was the excellent work Emma Parnell at Joy pushed when she was part of NHS Digital (Let's Talk About Sex - As policy shifts and the national narrative about marginalised groups makes our work hard, it takes a brave person to push for trans inclusion.

Simple acts, when you have the opportunity, also count. To show to our audience that Camp Digital is an inclusive, welcoming space, we featured the artwork of Sophie Green and our own design team, admittedly exploiting everyone's fondness for a good sticker at a conference.

Meal pin badges showing the pronouns They/Them and He/Him

Groundhog Gay

Pride month doesn't necessarily end in June, when Macc Pride happened last weekend, Stockport Pride is this weekend, and Manchester Pride is still to come. We'd like to keep this going. So, it's with this desire to make pride meaningful and practical that we plan to maintain our support through a local event. Still Proud was conceived by the excellent Sarah Knowles as a way to deliver something useful, enjoyable, practical and local. We will meet on the 3rd August in Nexer's office for an evening of making, crafting, tech exploration and story sharing. We will be joined on the night by of talented friends including IDST, Macc-based artists and techies facilitating our maker activities. We'll also be joined by Macc Art Space, Macc Tech and Macc Pride to generate ideas, concepts and content that might form an emerging LGBTQ+ community digital archive for Macclesfield. Who knows? Families, colleges, businesses, community groups, housing orgs and local council teams are all welcome, to see what we might create together to capture the queer spirit of Macclesfield.

Join us in our Ropewalks basement for an evening of making, conversation, and connections. We will supply the refreshments and as many coloured Sharpies, Post-its, sensors and light bulbs as we can find between now and the 3rd August. Let's make Pride more than flag waving, or burning, and get together to celebrate the joy, resilience and creativity of the wonderful community around us. We hope to see you there!

Grab your free tickets to 'Still Proud: A celebration of LGBTQ+ community and creativity in Macclesfield', and if you can, consider donating to our fundraiser, with proceeds going to LGBTQ+ charities.