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Pride 2022: Allyship and Activism

22 June 2022

The annual Pride in London parade is taking place on Saturday 2 July and events are being held worldwide celebrating Pride and all that it stands for. LGBTQ+ Pride events are held annually in June across the world in honour of the Stonewall riots 50 years ago. Historian Nicholas Edsall explains that the “the best… analogy is with Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus in 1955, which sparked the modern civil rights movement. Within months after Stonewall, radical gay liberation groups and newsletters sprang up in cities and on college campuses across America and then across all of northern Europe as well”.

Our mission today, says Pride in London, is to be fully inclusive of all sections of the LGBT+ community and to provide both a celebration of LGBTQ+ life and a platform for continuing the fight for equality and challenging prejudice. Pride in London is proud to welcome people of every race and faith, whether disabled or able-bodied, and all sexualities and genders including lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, queer, questioning, intersex, transgender, genderqueer, gender variant or non-binary as well as straight and cis allies.

It’s time to ask, Pride in London urges us, what kind of world we want to see for LGBTQ+ people in 2072. At Seven Hills, we believe that allyship and activism are key to continuing the evolution of a movement that seeks to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and campaign for the freedoms that will allow these communities around the world to live their lives on a genuinely equal footing. And change is here: podcast guest Mark Gatiss – listen to his episode here – and Queer Britain recently achieved the milestone of opening London’s first Queer Museum in Granary Square.

Find out below how Anil, Dan, Jude and Juergen are committed to activism and allyship.


How to reclaim your identity and find your voice

“I’m really passionate about seldom-heard voices, partly because of my own identity: being queer and non-binary and mixed race is kind of different,” Anil Sebastian told Michael Hayman in October 2021. The artist, musician and creative director of specialist sonic branding agency DLMDD is also the co-founder of the world-leading alternative choir London Contemporary Voices. This has become a creative, safe space for transgender and gender non-conforming singers to use their voices and spread the joy of music. 

And it is the act of spreading joy that drives Anil in their work and life. Anil explained that for them, celebration and joy can be an act of resistance, “in a world where sometimes marginalised groups are portrayed in a particular kind of way, or their narrative is told from an outside perspective rather than from within. So it’s a way of reclaiming that”.

Anil talks about everything from resisting the “imposter syndrome” they say they live with each day to the challenges that come with their identity. They have worked with the likes of Sam Smith, U2, Alt-J and Laura Mvula, and turned life’s barriers into a joyous and completely unique body of work, which sees them recognised as one of the most exciting artists in the UK today. 

Listen to Anil’s Change Makers episode here and follow them @anil.sebastian

Find resources for LGBTQIA+ mental health with Mind UK here


How to cultivate curiosity and inspire activism

Dan Glass, the award-winning human rights campaigner, writer, presenter and performer, joined Change Makers host Michael Hayman in conversation earlier this year. With his visionary, community-based approach that weaves connections between groups that are marginalised in society, Dan’s work seeks to raise critical consciousness and creativity so these people can write their own history. According to Dan, activism is simply acting upon what you care about, and cultivating curiosity we have about ourselves and the world at large. It’s with this spirit that he has led campaigns for climate justice, LGBTQIA rights, HIV awareness and more, with his exuberant passion for change matched only by the depth of his rage and warmth of his insight.  

Dan, an Aids Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) activist, has been recognised for his work as Activist of the Year and deemed a BBC Greater Londoner for founding Queer Tours of London – A Mince Through Time. He is the author of United Queerdom: From the Legends of the Gay Liberation Front to the Queers of Tomorrow and his next book, Queer Footprints: A Guide to Uncovering London’s Fierce History, is being published in May 2023.

“We have zero time to waste when it comes to respecting wholeheartedly the interdependency of the human species,” Dan told Michael. “If you are involved in a large institution and you are not doing everything in your capacity to challenge the inequalities at the heart of your institution, it literally is going to come and bite you in the bum, because we’re all connected.” 

Listen to Dan’s Change Makers episode here and follow him @danglassmincer

Find out more about Dan’s work here


Why a gender equal world is desirable, possible and urgently required

“No one else has the right to define for somebody else, who they are and how they love and how they identify.” Michael Hayman marked International Women’s Day 2022 – and its theme, #BreakTheBias – by speaking to Jude Kelly CBE, the award-winning theatre director, producer and founder of WOW (Women of the World) Foundation. Through its flagship festivals as well as events and school programmes, WOW’s mission is clear; a high-profile cultural space for women’s stories to be shared must exist, and a gender equal world is desirable, possible and urgently required. 

In 2018, Jude stepped back from her role as Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre to focus on growing this incredible initiative, now the world’s biggest and most comprehensive festival, celebrating women, girls and non-binary people. Jude shared her journey from artist to activist, the cultural moments and movements that shaped her world view, and the importance of self-identity. “Some people’s stories are given more importance than others,” Jude told Michael, “Some people’s stories are never told, and some people’s stories are distorted. And that is when I began to think: That isn’t truthful to humanity. And if theatre is a method of humans telling each other how they feel, and what’s happening in the world, then that theatre has got to represent everybody and be there for everyone.

Listen to Jude’s Change Makers episode here and follow her @judekellystudio

Find out more about WOW here


Giving a voice to industry: how to leave a legacy

“You have a responsibility in leadership to add your voice to the debate about things that matter to society.” So said Juergen Maier in conversation with Michael Hayman. Juergen is the former CEO of Siemens UK, the UK Chair of Digital Catapult, Vice Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, and co-founder of vocL, which works with the next generation of business leaders to help them find their voice and enable them to have a more positive impact on society. Named as the most influential businessperson in North West England, Juergen describes himself as an industrialist, with a purpose to provide leadership, encouragement and critique for UK policies and activities that support green re-industrialisation, particularly in northern regions and in the context of a post-pandemic economic landscape.

“For at least 15 years, I didn’t bring my whole self to work. I didn’t feel comfortable bringing the fact that I was a gay man to work,” he explained to Michael. “I didn’t think it fitted particularly well into the world of manufacturing and engineering… It was only much later I realised that maybe the slightly softer side of my personality is actually what brings the difference. And actually, it is that softer and more empathetic side that made the difference.” 

Listen to Juergen’s Change Makers episode here and follow him @juergen_maier 

Find out more about Juergen’s work with vocL here



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