For Pride we are sharing some of our Vitality employee stories, starting with Dwaine 🌈
“Pride is fundamentally a celebration – of acceptance, genders, identities, and the progress we’ve all made, along with an acknowledgment that we still have more to do.
It would be a huge understatement to say society has made massive changes, even during my own lifetime. Growing up, my sexuality was something I felt immense shame about carrying. I didn’t turn to my parents, nor my friends, and the internet wasn’t invented quite yet – so lots of thoughts to process, but no idea on how to tackle them. It was normal for me to live this shameful secret life – two lives running parallel to each other, neither would ever meet.
It wasn’t until my early 30s when I decided to come out – I felt like I was living my life for someone else, after wasting so many years wishing I was something I knew I was never going to be. If I was going to be disowned by family, fine – some of my friends, fine – as long as I was finally able to shift this burden, I’d be happy to reset, and build new friendships with people who loved me for me. So, I was ready to embrace my real self, even if the rest of the world wasn’t quite so prepared. Some friends I’ve parted ways with, others I’ve grown closer to, but finally I can live my authentic life – it’s just a shame I never did it decades earlier.
Pride, for me, is also an opportunity to reflect on how fortunate I am. I can work for a business and live in a country where my diversity is a strength and can be embraced. Where we can parade our diversity through cities all over the UK with Pride marches, when, in some countries, it would be illegal to do the same.
It’s a time for us to celebrate acceptance and amplify some of the challenges we still face and stories that might otherwise might not be heard. How we still need to continue to educate, debate as well as celebrate. An opportunity to thank those who have paved the way, and made sacrifices so we can live more authentically than maybe we could’ve done before.
Like everyone, any celebration will be different this year, so I’ll mark the occasion with friends and gin, and will hopefully join our community in September to have a day to live our best lives, when Pride in London returns.”