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It feels good to BE Proud at Pride

During Midsumma Festival 2022, I had the pleasure of taking to the sunny streets of St Kilda to take part in Midsumma Pride March.

As a leader of BE Proud, Belong’s LGBTQIA+ network, I took great pride in representing all LGBTQIA+ and allied staff. I was new to this, having never marched before, but there really is nothing like being cheered on by the crowd as you fly the flag for equality and inclusion.

BE Proud at Belong

Now in its third year, BE Proud is one of four employee groups at Belong. Each group provides a platform and a voice to our communities and helps to include, engage and educate our wider Belong team. It’s reassuring to know that Belong goes beyond encouraging people to bring their full self to work, but in fact celebrates it and supports each team member.

BE Proud’s work focuses on connection, education and celebration. We’ve created initiatives that help shine a light on subjects some people shy away from – the use of pronouns, the language we use in business, even simply understanding all the tongue twister acronyms. For us, ignorance is no longer an excuse for bias, so we strive to be a source of truth and trust – to bridge those gaps for many people. We’re also working to create ongoing relationships with local charities and looking to find ways we can aid in their causes.

Pride feels like...

Midsumma Pride March

Celebration follows connection and education. And what better way to celebrate than to take to the streets with a flurry of allies at Midsumma Pride March!

Midsumma Pride March is one of Midsumma’s signature events. Each year, around 7,400 marchers make their way down Fitzroy Street in St Kilda as over 45,000 people line the streets and balconies along the March route to show their support. It’s one of the best-attended Pride Marches in Victoria.

Dykes on Bikes precede the marching contingent as per tradition. The March itself is led by Boon Wurrung Elders and a Rainbow Aboriginal Float along with the Premier of Victoria, Minister for Equality and the Creative Industries and Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities. Hundreds of young people, often amongst the most vulnerable within our communities, are placed towards the front of the March as a positive and strong affirmation for LGBTIQA+ youth.

Steve from the Belong Social Team poses during Pride March with a dog wearing a rainbow scarf.

Belong is a Major Sponsor of Midsumma Festival 2022

As a new Major Sponsor of Midsumma this year, we got to be one of the first teams to walk down Fitzroy Street. We may not have had a large contingency this year, but it is something BE Proud is looking to grow, as our relationship with Midsumma grows.

If you’ve never taken part in a March, imagine that feeling you get as you step out of the airport gate and everyone waiting is cheering your arrival. You are no longer just walking – your shoulders are pushed back, your chest firmly forward and your smile simply beaming. You are now strutting, and you suddenly feel like a celebrity. Better yet, you are a part of a community, larger than your family or your school or your workplace. The cheers you hear echo on from generation to generation as the march symbolises the fight that has come before, and the fight that continues. It’s a fight for equality, acceptance, and inclusion.

Words cannot do justice to the feelings and atmosphere you experience by being a part of such an inspiring event. Knowing that Belong’s involvement with Midsumma is only going to get bigger and better, I am excited to be there every step of the way.

Jarrod and Hannah from Belong hold a sign that says “It feels good to BE Proud” in the marshall area of Midsumma Pride March.

Jarrod Humphreys, Creative Operations Lead and Co-Lead of BE Proud at Belong

Jarrod Humphreys has worked in creative and PR agencies across Australia and London since 2007, and is a loud and proud advocate for LGBTQIA+ communities.