LGBTQ & Ally Voices of MiQ is an interview series that’s part of our Pride celebrations. In this blog, we’ll hear from MiQ people who are in different roles, in different countries, with different experiences. They’ll tell us about their story, how they’re celebrating Pride and what it means to them. This is just one of the ways we’re supporting the LGBTQ+ community and raising awareness. It reflects how far society has come, but how far we still need to go.
Name: Clare Martin
Role: Global director, career acceleration
What was your first Pride experience?
Despite dating someone of the same gender for four years and living in London, I don’t think I felt pride back then – more shame, or maybe just uncertainty. It was only in my final year of uni that I went to Manchester Pride with my little sister, and a gay male rugby team.
We crashed in the rugby team’s hostel room for two nights and had an absolute blast. I felt safe with this group of kind, welcoming and hilarious men. (And I had my sister there, and she’s always been a huge support.) One of the guys even came with me to visit a lesbian bar for a few hours. I’ve since been back to Manchester Pride with another group of friends. I think it’ll always have a soft spot in my heart.
What do you find inspirational about Pride month?
And seeing younger generations challenging stereotypes and heteronormative ways of being through more fluid gender expression that better represents who they are.
Who was the first LGBTQ+ character or celebrity you remember seeing?
The characters I first remember having some impact were on The L Word. I streamed it online and secretly watched along on my laptop. I know that Carol in Friends was a “first”, but because it’s centred on Ross’s view as a divorced man, it’s not quite the same and isn’t a positive portrayal.
What messages do you hear about LGBTQ+ people in your daily life, and from your family, friends and colleagues?
In my family and close friends, it’s support and acceptance. At times, there’s also recognition for how my life has been different and the bravery it takes. (That’s often from friends in the UK who are teaching students about the history of gay rights during Pride month.)
From a broader network, it’s often curiosity and sometimes genuine interest. But often, this can be a “you’re different” statement dressed up as a question.
In daily life, it can be very mixed. I remember visiting my in-laws in Australia during their plebiscite on gay marriage. I was bombarded with political messaging that told me my life was worth less than others, while they were broadcasting the TV show ‘Married at First Sight’. I remember thinking how can my relationship and marriage be illegal, but marrying a stranger on a TV show be accepted? Challenging friends and allies on why they watched that show was another reminder of how unaware straight people are about equality. I’ve regularly had messages about how my way of being is worth less or is even illegal.
From work, I’ve had a lot of support, but there has often been a lack of awareness or knowledge. I’ve had to explain that because it’s illegal for me to be with my wife in certain countries, I can’t travel or relocate to some places. It’s another subtle reminder that our rights aren’t equal, and are also invisible.
What advice do you wish you had growing up and what would you say to a young LGBTQ+ person now?
Trust yourself and don’t worry about labels. You’ll work out what’s right for you, at the time that’s right for you.