I saw a post recently from one of my favourite Celebrants Julia Hawkes talking about the importance of all wedding professionals developing greater LGBTQ Awareness. This combined with the much-needed awareness of the challenges faced by friends, family, and friends I have yet to meet in the BAME community has really made me step back, pause, and look more deeply into our world and how we treat each other (as human beings we have a lot of work to do). And importantly how I can be an advocate for making our world a better place.
For example I struggle a little with the acronym BAME after taking the time to read about it and what it stands for in more detail. Does this create even further marginalisation? Is a category a good thing or a bad thing? Should we get rid of ethnicity categories all together? I have so many questions.
And I don’t for one-minute think that I have all the answers and there will always be learnings I will continue to take and apply. Being open to new thoughts and ideas, solutions and understanding is key. We have a real opportunity to change the future by working together and supporting each other.
Life is a learning curve and we should never stop learning.
For me I’ve always believed that love is love. You can’t help who you fall in love with and that’s a rather wonderful thing. I was once asked if I found it odd to photograph a same sex couple kissing. My answer was and always has been ‘no’. When I look through the lens obviously I can see that for example; a same sex couple are both of the same gender (I have 20/20 vision – I am a photographer!). What I see is a couple in love. Love is love. For me that’s non-negotiable.
As a wedding professional I also try to show imagery that is diverse and inclusive – just like my Clients. That goes without saying.
I believe in having challenging and at times uncomfortable and difficult conversations, working through courses, podcasts, and books. Gently letting people know where there are errors so that they have the opportunity to correct them. And just as importantly helping them to recognise why they perhaps need to educate themselves further. This will all help towards a better world and a more understanding and compassionate future for us all.
I believe that as human beings in our communities, families, and working environments we need to be holding each other to account.
We need to recognise and face up to prejudices. Understand the impact that these have on others. Support those who are affected by such prejudiced actions, inappropriate behaviours directed toward them, and biases. Yes it might be uncomfortable to address these but imagine how uncomfortable it is to live through it.
As a white female born in the UK, I am learning to recognise the privileges that come with being born into the environment I am in. I am listening and I am learning. I am empathetic and I always try my very best to treat others with respect and kindness. Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself and think of others before yourself has been drummed into me by my Parents since I was small.
Conversations need to be started even when they are uncomfortable. Discussions need to be had even if they are challenging. Yet talking is only the starting line and action needs to happen on an everyday level to move us all forward to create a world with equality.
For me; silence is not an option. And therefore my personal commitments are these:
Whatever you take away from this post please know that the burden of fighting against injustice cannot be shouldered solely by the community it is aimed at.
If you come across someone who is saying/sharing inappropriate comments either through lack of education or through misplaced bias or prejudice, take the time to gently explain. Give them the opportunity to correct their mistakes without the burden of social media getting involved. But remind them that the clock is ticking.
It is the responsibility of everybody to fight and drive out these injustices.
Therefore I say to you: “Intolerance and injustice? Not on my watch.”
But it doesn’t stop there.
Putting what you say into action is critical.
I like to learn and I’m always updating my knowledge by investing my time (and money) in courses to ensure that I am up to date and aware of changes to UK laws, industry updates, photographic standards and training. This also includes constantly ‘upgrading’ my awareness of challenges being faced in society as we move forward through time.
This week I decided that I too would have a look at the LGBTQ Wedding Awareness Course to see what more I could learn and what learnings I could apply to my business to ensure that it best serves my community and my Clients.
I have recently completed and passed this course with a mark of 100%. Great! I could have just put a big tick next to that and moved on. But I didn’t stop there…
Following the guidance in the course I took it further and started to review the information that goes out to Clients and that is on my website.
To my horror I noted that my T&Cs that were written 10 years ago, and whilst topped up with additions every now and then to reflect changes in the industry, still had the term ‘Bride & Groom’ hidden away in there. I have amended this now to ‘Wedding Couple’ following the guidance of the Wedding Business School.
There will be times where I make errors and I will own up to these. There may well be further historical errors I am yet to discover and knowing what I know now I will correct them. I will correct and update and do my very best. That is my pledge.
There was an open letter sent to the newly formed Association of British Wedding Businesses from LGBTQ Equality Weddings (you can read it here: https://www.lgbtqequalityweddings.com/openletter) which raised some very valid points.
I am currently a founding member of the ABWB and it was set up at the height of the current Covid-19 pandemic to help our industry and for that I am grateful. It has created a voice for an industry that has been decimated by this pandemic. Yet I am also keen to see the ABWB’s written response to LGBTQ Equality Weddings as the Association representing the industry I work in. My professional clock is ticking on this…
My business is inclusive.
Love is love.