In June we celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month, a time that always causes me to reflect on my personal journey and what Pride means to me.
I’ve often had a complicated relationship with Pride and LGBTQ life more generally. It took me quite a long time to embrace my place on the rainbow spectrum; indeed, I had tipped into my thirties before I finally came out to family and friends. But since then I haven’t looked back, and am now living a contented (indeed, happily married!) life.
My journey to self-acceptance as a member of the LGBTQ community has in fact coincided to a large degree with the development of my career as an editorial professional. It was only a year or two after coming out that I changed tack in my working life and looked to pursue editorial work full-time, and it’s impossible not to view the two things as somehow linked. I’m certain that opening up and being able to live as my fully authentic self helped give me the confidence to strike out as a self-employed freelance, and vice versa; the two facets have undoubtedly fed into each other.
Only on one occasion has my LGBTQ identity to my knowledge impacted whether I got a project. An overseas student approached me about proofreading their dissertation, which focused on various societal aspects in their home country. Having obviously studied my online work profiles a little more closely, they very honestly told me that their thesis contained some ‘conservative’ views around equal marriage and expressed their concern that I thus might feel uncomfortable working on it. I’m sure it wasn’t anything I couldn’t have handled, and I told them as much, but nevertheless we amicably agreed that they would look elsewhere for help.
This was a fascinating intersection of professional and personal pride, and caused me a lot of subsequent thought. At first, I thought I would never reject a project out of hand if it contained some subject matter I did not agree with, but then on reflection I wondered if that approach would be doing a serious disservice to my fellow LGBTQ folks, or indeed any other group affected by the material. At the very least, depending on the context I think I would struggle from a personal point of view if there were no scope to discuss the content.
We hear a lot about ‘cancel culture’, and this episode really brought home that it’s very much not the preserve of celebrities. I’m of the mind that it’s better to try to engage people in reasoned discussion where possible, but of course there has to be a limit, and it may indeed be that an occasional project may simply not be worth engaging with. While it’s tempting as a freelance to say yes to anything that comes your way, there must be times when personal pride and principles may need to take precedence.
Everyone will of course have their own thoughts and approaches in these circumstances, but I know for myself I need to show pride in myself and my community in everything I do, including in my work going forward.