Pat Baillie, Out & Equal Director of Training & Professional Development, will be contributing to the Out & Equal blog while she is on the road for a month, traveling and training. Pat is currently in London for the Global LGBT Workplace Summit, which took place July 5 & 6, 2012.
Friday, the Global LGBT Workplace Summit continued. The quality of speakers at the General Session was amazing. Vladi Luxuria, former MP from Italy and transgender activist, was powerful and brought the audience to their feet! Her speech is definitely one to listen to when they are posted on the web site. What was so surprising was that here we are halfway around the world, talking to LGBT leaders from countries all over the world, and yet our stories resonate with each other. The workshops continued to prompt discussions and brainstorming. Although the one I did with Nadine Vogel on the intersections between lessons learned from the disability community and the LGBT community had low attendance, it helped me see different perspectives on how to approach diversity on a global basis.
The Luncheon and Gala went off really well, and a very tired but happy staff who traveled to London earned a well deserved celebratory drink. Dani, Nichol and Stanley definitely took on the lion’s share of the detail work. Out & Equal’s Kevin Jones, Barbara Wrigley and Scott Sax worked with the sponsors and made sure we all were in the right place at the right time! Director of Community Empowerment, Nance Mace, got a chance to learn a lot about our presenters acting as their liaison and new Director of Events, Teddy Witherington, got to see how Out & Equal runs a Summit. I got a chance to connect with a lot of our constituents and learn about what they are facing. I spent a lot of time listening and the lessons I took away will definitely influence the global perspective in the Training Department. It was really fun to have people recognize me by my webinar voice! Off to get some rest and then on to World Pride!
Having been a Pride parade co-president for over 11 years, I know that feeling when you get up in the morning and wonder how it will go! We were up early and had a good breakfast at the hotel. We met up with the rest of the staff and some of the attendees and headed off. There has been a lot of drama around World Pride (it is a Pride event after all). The start time changed just a week ago from 13:00 to 11:00. I laughed because like most Pride parades, we ended up there nice and early and really didn’t step off until almost 13:00 anyway! They also said there would be no motorized vehicles or floats. This was disappointing to sponsors who had already paid to be in the parade, but still about 25,000 people showed up and marched.
We decided to take the Underground since there were so many streets closures planned, and Sharrin and I realized how comfortable we had become with the transport system in London. It took a while to get everybody tickets and to keep the Out & Equal marchers together. We had about 25 marching with us, and we passed about A LOT of Out at Work stickers. Just like at any other parade or festival, people almost seemed surprised when you talk about being Out at Work! They almost have to stop and think about it and then get really passionate and say, ‘yes, I am out at work!’ and take a sticker.
The entries spanned the gambit of what we see at San Francisco Pride, but the scope and causes was much larger. We started off walking in front of the Nigeria contingent; small but happy to be there! We ended up marching in between IBM and Microsoft and had a great time as the groups mixed and mingled along the route. We looked like proper Brits several times as we scurried to put on our rain gear and get our brelly’s (umbrella’s) up as the rain started. At first it felt like everybody was in the parade and there weren’t a lot of spectators along the route, but when we got near Piccadilly Circus and on into Trafalgar Square (where it ended), the crowds were definitely there! As we entered the Square, the Grand Marshalls were there to greet us.
London had their first Pride 40 years ago in 1972 and about 700 attended. The Veterans were invited again to join the parade at the head and they stood at the end to welcome each entry. Talk about full circle and power! I was out in 1972, and starting to go to parades, in the states but these men and women were the history of the UK history. We started applauding them as we walked by and feel the importance and power of what we were doing today to continue that early vision for what Pride could mean to a community! We saw a few protestors but mostly it was an international celebration of who we are in all of our diversity! That was my one parade this year and it felt like the right place to be. We ended our route and were lucky that it was just a short walk and crossing the river to get back at our London home. Some stayed for the celebration and concert that included Boy George, but many of us headed back. The afternoon was spent enjoying tea with Kevin Jones and Nancy Mace, packing, napping, one more London dinner and then off to bed! Global LGBT summit – check! World Pride – check! Now on to vacation!
No alarm to wake up to this morning! Since we were packed and pretty much ready to go, we woke up had a leisurely breakfast. Teddy Witherington headed home yesterday and Scott Sax and Kevin Jones headed home this morning. The rest of us are heading out to spend a few days (or like me, a couple of weeks) vacationing all around Europe. Sharrin and I saw Mike Feldman from the Out & Equal board, and we compared notes on things to see and trip plans, and then we were on our way. I got a chance to talk to a few of the hotel staff and thanked them for their work. I had not heard any negative comments from attendees; only how well their staff had done. We made our way over to Euston (said, Houston) station via the Underground one more time to catch our train to Glasgow. We tried to reduce what we were going to take with us the next 2 weeks; one of our large suitcases was used to pack up the office to ship back, and thanks to Kevin Jones for bringing home our other one! Our goal is to do this trip with one roller bag each!
The train ride is about 4 hours from London and then we will pick up a car and drive over to Edinburgh. Internet might not be as accessible over the next few days but I will keep you up on the travel adventures! – Pat