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Pride Month 2024

PSA Lead for LGBTQ+ members, Ed Haywood-Noble, shares his first blog to mark Pride Month 2024:

This is my first blog written as the PSA’s lead for LGBTQ+ members.
I’m proud to be in this role, taking over from the fantastic work of Paul Court, who did so much to raise awareness and prompt conversations around issues linked to LGBQT+ colleagues and communities.
Why am I writing and why is Pride Month important? 
For me, it’s simple. Whilst we have come a long way in making our communities and workplaces safe and inclusive, we are far from being able to say that every person in the LGBQT+ community feels they can live a free, open and confident life. Until that is the case – Pride Month will always be necessary and worthwhile.
I’ve been a police officer for 18 years, in that time there has been huge progress towards inclusion, which is fantastic.  However the relationship between police and LGBTQ+ communities has historically been difficult, and there are still many people around who remember that, resulting in a lack of trust and confidence.
People from every background – LGBTQ+ or otherwise, need to know that if they need the police, they will not be judged or treated differently to anyone else when they contact us.
It’s not just about how we treat people when they need us, it’s about being alive and alert to their personal situation and respecting that. If a member of the public from the LGBTQ+ community is involved with the police for whatever reason, and they are not openly gay, they should not be in fear that we will ‘out’ them.  That’s the same for our colleagues. 

Robert Peel’s quote is well-used but for very good reason – the police are the public, and the public are the police. We are not mutually exclusive bodies – we are one. Pride events help us demonstrate that.
I know just how impactive this can be, because I remember how I felt when I attended my first Pride parade, in York, wearing my uniform as a police officer. There’s no doubt that I was nervous at first, as I didn’t know what the reaction from the public or my colleagues would be, or how I would feel, being open about who I was. I was wearing my rainbow epaulettes and shoe laces and was being very open about my identity.

It's hard to explain what a positive experience this was. The reaction from colleagues and from the public, was overwhelming. People were cheering us on, coming over and shaking my hand. I vividly remember someone coming up to me to give me a hug, who said “thank you – this makes it ok for us to live our lives as our true selves.” I felt such a sense of genuine pride, I was buzzing with it. To be part of that group was a real privilege.
It really brought home to me that this was not only the right thing to do, it was incumbent upon me, and was a personal responsibility, to be visible. As a leader, and as a police officer, I’ve got a responsibility to show that’s it ok to be who you are, both at work and in public facing events. 
To those reading this, I ask that you have awareness of LGBTQ+ colleagues and our communities.  Don’t put people in boxes, or let them put themselves in boxes.  People often limit themselves by the barriers they have in their own minds, especially those from under-represented groups.  People can only reach their full potential if they are comfortable being their true self.  As a leader, make it clear to anyone in your team that they are valued and that work is a welcoming and inclusive environment, where all can thrive.
I’m here for anyone who would like to talk about these issues.  Whether it’s for advice or simply to discuss something you think is important. 
Until then – happy Pride Month.