About four years ago an armed man went into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida in the United States and killed 49 people, wounding 53 others. It was an attack toward the LGBT+ community that moved me to tears, and action. I blogged about some of my feelings about the event here at the time, and back then I decided to fly my rainbow flag high from my balcony here in London, and I still do that each year during the Pride festive events.
But I did something else to try and show my support and love toward the world’s LGBT+ community as well – I signed up to become a volunteer for Pride in London, to help put on the city’s largest festive LGBT+ parade in this wonderful city I call my home. Every year more than 1M+ people take to the streets of London in a show of festivity and love, lots of glitter and at its heart – protest. This celebration is often a beacon of hope and representative of freedom to LGBT+ people around the world who may not have – the right to marry, the right to love who they want and the right to express and be themselves in a safe environment. In dozens of countries the rights of LGBT+ people are under threat, even to the point of death.
For two years now I’ve been a volunteer with Pride in London – helping out with my skills as a Publicist and supporting not just with the amazing annual Parade, but also with the month-long Festival that happens in the run-up to the big parade day, and the very special annual Pride’s Got Talent. It has been an absolute honour to be part of the team – a huge good time, and a fantastic learning experience as well.
In my time with Pride in London I was welcomed and brought into a true family – which, when you live in a big city like I do, isn’t always easy to find your tribe and connect with people. I was able to put my PR skills to work and had the fantastic experience of working with many of the leading media across the city – even helping out on coordinating live TV broadcast spots. All this helped me in my own professional career as well, in terms of increasing my experience.
I learned so much! I was amazed to see how activism, when strategic, highly organized and on such a giant scale – works! I saw literally hundreds of volunteers come together so effectively to deliver a message of love, of diversity and respect for all. And it wasn’t just one day – it takes a whole year for the core volunteer team to keep things running and delivering on all the necessary tasks, culminating in the July parade day. Everyone contributes, outside of other day jobs, and hundreds of volunteer hours make all the happenings possible.
Now, after my two years, it is time for me to move on from volunteering for Pride in London, as I have some other things I need to focus toward. While it was a big tragedy that motivated me to sign-up to volunteer, I hope that my contribution, in a small way, added toward a better world. If you have interest in getting involved with such an exciting experience – my answer to you is: Do it! Do it! Do it!
You can visit the Pride in London website to find out what volunteer roles are coming up and what teams need help at: www.prideinlondon.org