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'Intersectional Pride At Work': My Final Pink News Webinar
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I sat down to the listen to the final 3-hour Pink News webinar from their ‘Pride at Work’ series, whiskey in hand. The theme of the webinar was: Race, Gender & Sexuality: Intersectional Pride at Work & Beyond. From the title alone, I knew that attendees would be fed a lethal cocktail of gender ideology and critical race theory.
The webinar was hosted by Pink News’ Neil Hudson-Basing, who began the event by stating: “My pronouns are he/him and I identify as gay and queer”.
He told us, gleefully, that gone were the days of simply having a ‘pride month’ here or a ‘trans day of visibility’ there. Instead, Pink News’ goal is to create a society of “Pride 365”, in which “queer people are able to show up as their authentic selves” every single day. The thought of having such ideology drilled into us 24/7 is a terrifying one indeed.
Before kicking off the main speakers, Hudson-Basing provided us with the usual oxymoronic statement. We were told that when it comes to the topics being discussed: “let’s get comfortable being uncomfortable”. However, he immediately followed this up by saying that the webinar must be a “safe space” and that “we don’t debate anyone’s lived experience here”. Anyone who failed to adhere to this would be removed. In other words, there was to be no dialogue.
The entire series has been sponsored by Lloyd’s Banking Group and so the introductory remarks were made by Sam Owo – Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Lloyds. Owo began by telling us: “it has been an extremely challenging year for LGBTQ+ people”. I was expecting this to be followed up with some evidence, or at least some personal anecdotes, but they never came. Quelle surprise.
We were then told that Lloyd’s commitment to queer colleagues “comes right from the top”, with the CEO having recently held a “listening session” with ‘asexual colleagues’. While I tried to conjure up an image of Lloyd’s CEO listening to people talking about not having sex, Owo began to tell us about a recent in-house initiative run by Lloyds, entitled “Black, Queer and Fabulous”. Right…
The keynote speech was delivered by Jacqui Rhule-Dagher, an Associate from city law firm, Hogan Lovells. Introducing her, Hudson-Basing told listeners that we are “living in a country that apparently isn’t systemically racist”, suggesting that in his eyes the UK is systemically racist. Once again, no evidence was provided to back up this seismic allegation.
Rhule-Dagher began her talk with a few obscure references to ‘Orange Is The New Black’ and ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’. Then, the ideological preaching began.
We were told, patronisingly, that when minorities share their experiences with us, we would be wise to remember that “the word silent and listen contain the same letters”. Admittedly, I had never appreciated this fun fact before and banked it for this year’s Christmas pub quiz. However, the underlying sentiment was that we should shut up and not dare to challenge ‘lived experience’. I recently spoke out about the tyranny of lived experience at the Battle of Ideas.
We were told that anytime a colleague shares a belief or opinion that Rhule-Dagher doesn’t agree with, that she asks: “Interesting, why do you think that?”. However, we were let in on a little secret. She doesn’t ask it because she genuinely wants to know the answer. She asks it to ensure she “calls people out and makes them explain themselves”. Maybe she is the one who needs to remember the spelling of the words ‘silent’ and ‘listen’.
Rhule-Dagher said that she takes it as a ‘microaggression’ if, after presenting at work, a colleague tells her “you speak really well”. This is an example of the never-ending victimhood politics being played throughout society. Looking for offence where none was intended. Attributing the worst possible meaning to everything.
Talking about perceived sexism in the workplace, Rhule-Dagher provided a telling Freudian slip, saying: “I may race…sorry face…sexism differently”.
When asked how workplaces should ensure they are trans allies, she said that all employees should be encouraged to provide pronouns and should correct all forms of misgendering, even when the relevant colleague isn’t present in the room. Workplaces should also “have visible symbols and inclusive language” at the heart of all they do.
In the Q&A session at the end of her talk, one attendee asked: “How do you ‘de-centre whiteness’ at work?”. I prayed that Rhule-Dagher would challenge the question, saying it was offensive and racist. Instead, she said: “good question”. One rule for thee, another for me…
The next speaker was Professor Patrick Vernon OBE, a black rights’ activist and former Labour Party councillor. He made a series of offensive and thoughtless statements. For example, he compared Boris Johnson with the English Defence League (EDL) on the basis that both spoke out against proposals to tear down the statue of Winston Churchill. He also said: “you won’t see homophobic, racist or sexist programmes on TV, unless you’re on GB News”.
Even though such statements would offend a significant proportion of the country, he clearly felt comfortable making them. How might employees who are fans of Winston Churchill or employees who, god forbid, watch GB News, feel? Clearly, Pink News and Lloyds Banking Group do not care.
The racism continued, with Vernon telling us that too much of school curriculum is devoted to “dead, white men”. It is painfully ironic that those preaching anti-racism often exhibit racism through their own words.
Freudian slips were also a feature of Vernon’s talk, when, in attempting to say ‘Black Lives Matter’, he accidentally said: “Black Riots Matter”. I won’t lie – that tickled me.
He followed this up with some bizarre statements, questioning “why Star Trek didn’t discuss LGBT issues” and encouraging people to join UK Black Pride because “we can party better than you can”.
Finally, Vernon said that he was sick and tired of hearing workplaces say: “I care about black people blah blah blah”.
The final session of the day was a panel discussion, featuring speakers from the King’s Fund, Lloyds and elsewhere. The most concerning sentiments, however, came from self-proclaimed activist, Eva Echo, who worryingly sat on the Crown Prosecution Service’s (now defunct) Hate Crime Panel. Echo told the audience that gender critical people “hate trans people” – a hateful statement in and of itself, before saying “this is my full self and it’s up to everyone else to fit around me”.
As I came to the end of this final ‘Pride at Work’ webinar, I had mixed emotions. I felt eternally grateful that I wouldn’t have to listen to this nonsense again. However, I also felt a deep sense of sadness that such dangerous ideology is being spouted, day after day, to workplaces up and down the United Kingdom.
This is my last piece for a few weeks, as I will be out of the country. However, looking forward to writing for you again when I return.