Category Archives: 365

Why does Pride still matter in 2016?

This article was written for the charity Human Rights at Sea in preparation for the Pride season this year. Since it was written the horrendous attacks on the LGBT community in Orlando took place- a very real reminder that there is still a long way to come in terms of acceptance.

The UK has come a long way in a relatively short period of time in terms of equal rights for the LGBT+ community. There have been some huge steps towards equality with the equalising of the age of consent to 16 years old in 2001, transgender people being able to legally change their gender in 2005 and the introduction of equal marriage in 2014. The UK is now one of the most liberal countries with respect to equal rights for LGBT+ people. However, with that comes the question: Do we still need to have Pride events? Surely, everything we’ve been campaigning for over the last few decades has been achieved so why does Pride still matter?RFA personnel and Head of Service at London Pride 2015

This photographs shows the RFA contingent with the Head of Service, Commodore Rob Dorey, before marching with the Naval Service at London Pride 2015.

 

The answer is remarkably simple. If people feel that they can’t be themselves in either their personal or professional lives, then there is still a need to campaign for change. Despite all the partying, rainbows and frivolity, Pride events are integral to driving through change and increasing acceptance of LGBT+ people. It’s about being able to stand up and say ‘I am who I am and I am proud of it’. From a personal point of view, wearing full uniform and marching through London with the Naval Service was a real stand out moment in my life and something that would have been impossible prior to the lifting of the ban on homosexuals in the Armed Forces in 2000. As a member of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, I am included in the Royal Navy’s COMPASS network despite being a civilian. The RFA is a unique organisation that sits in-between the Merchant Navy and the Royal Navy: neither one thing nor the other. My experiences of being ‘out’ in the RFA and Naval Service are well documented and have been very positive but how reflective of the Merchant Navy are those experiences? Given that I’m a female and I sail with the RFA, you could argue that they’re not at all representative of the Merchant Navy.

 

History tells us that gay men have always been at sea, the stereotyped view of the gay sailor is almost ingrained in our culture but what is it like to be a gay man in the Merchant Navy in 2016? I spoke with a man in his mid-thirties who sails with a multi-national crew doing worldwide voyages. His experiences have been wildly different to mine. He is gay and wishes to remain anonymous. Despite being out to close friends and family, he doesn’t feel he can be out at work and crucially he’s never met another gay shipmate. There is the chance that he may well have sailed with many other gay people but the fear of not being accepted, may have meant his colleagues also weren’t able to come out.  He feels that knowing there was someone else on board, or even in the company, who was gay may help him to be more open about his sexuality. Simple but important things like his employer having robust LGBT+ policies would also make it easier for him to be open and himself at work. Luckily he hasn’t had any cause to have to consult the non-existent policies but that doesn’t detract from the need for a company to show that they treat everyone equally regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

 

The need for positive role models in the maritime industry is clear and whilst there is still a reluctance for people to bring their whole self to work, Pride events are still important. I look forward to the day when my colleagues in the Merchant Navy will wear their uniforms with pride and march through the streets without fearing that their working lives will suffer because of their gender or who they fall in love with.

My first Geocache

Yesterday I ventured into a strange new world known as Geocaching. I’m not entirely sure that I am ever going to see life the same way again for now I have a new game to play. This game is basically an elaborate, grown up treasure hunt where the aim is to find a container know as a geocache. All of these caches are logged on a website and you can use this website (or phone app) to search for caches to go hunt.

There are many different types of geocache and each one is unique to the person who placed it. I have been shown this world by one of my new colleagues, he was being gently mocked for his love of geocaching but I made a note to speak to him about it. As fate would have it, we spent most of yesterday offsite together in Crewe and I asked him to show me how it all worked, he duly obliged and before I knew it we were off to find my first geocache. The cache we were looking for was placed by a couple who’ve put a series of caches around Crewe to mark their romance. This particular one was put in Jubilee Park to mark the place where the couple got engaged. The app was brilliant: it helped us to navigate to the geocache; provided a description of the cache and offered a handy hint to locating it.

The geocache we were after was a small magnetic type know as a ‘nano’, the hint we were given was ‘Never Behind’. Once we got to the park we began looking for the nano, it was pretty easy to find as the gates were metal and had the words ‘Never Behind’ written on the crest. Opening the nano revealed a tiny piece of paper inside – each time you visit a cache you should date and sign your username. In this instance the log was too wet to write on so we carefully replaced the paper and put it back where we found it.

It seems that there are geocaches everywhere in the world and thousands of people are playing this international treasure hunt. I quite like it. 20130125-193017.jpg

Water bottles in School

Today’s 365 photo is of some of the pupil’s water bottles at school. I really like the fact that the primary school I work in realises the importance of stating hydrated. It improves concentration and health among many other things. What I like less is how the school uses plastic bottles for the pupils. Each class gets a set of disposable bottles, keeping them for a term and refilling daily. Refilling them is admirable but surely a more environmentally friendly thing to do would be to use plastic cups?

Ideally a water bottle that lasted for years would be perfect but sadly that’s not cost effective for a school (Sigg do a great range for kids).

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