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28 February 2023

Celebrating Diversity and Inclusivity: Hippo’s Pride Community and LGBTQ+ Initiatives

Henry Cookson

Welcome to Hippo, where we celebrate diversity and inclusivity through our various communities. Our Pride community, established in 2022, is run by LGBTQ+ employees and allies with support from our wider company. We have been working hard over the past year to define our purpose and identify the needs that our community should serve. We believe that it is crucial to work with communities that support other minority groups because we recognise that people often face multiple sources of disadvantage.

In honour of LGBT+ History Month, we recently had the opportunity to learn about LGBTQ+ history through posters and informative content provided by Schools Out. Community contributors, including Adam Clarkson and myself, made sure to share these resources with all our employees via our newsletter, community website, and social Slack channels. Our goal is not only to educate ourselves but also to create a space where everyone feels accepted and valued.

We are excited to announce that several evenings of ‘Pride Projections’ have been planned at our Leeds HQ over the next few months. Each event will feature screenings of LGBTQ+ films and shows picked by suggestions from our Pride community, which either feature or are made by LGBTQ+ people. We believe that sharing these stories is a powerful way to increase visibility and promote understanding of the LGBTQ+ community.

At Hippo, we are committed to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for everyone. We are proud of our Pride community and the work we are doing to celebrate diversity and promote acceptance. We invite you to join us on this journey towards a more equitable and inclusive world.

What is LGBT+ History Month?

Every February, LGBT+ History Month is marked across the UK in schools, businesses and wider society. At Hippo, our Pride community shares, reflects upon and celebrates queer history. 

LGBT+ History Month is an annual event organised by the UK charity ‘Schools out’. It aims to recognise the sacrifices made by the LGBTQ+ community, which have led to historical milestones, like the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967. It gives us an opportunity to learn from history and reflect on – and raise awareness of – the current struggles faced by LGBTQ+ people. February is the chosen month in the UK as it coincides with the abolition of Section 28 back in 2003 (government legislation introduced in 1988 that prohibited the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ by local authorities).

The theme for 2023 is ‘Behind the Lens’: celebrating LGBTQ+ peoples’ contribution to cinema and film. At a time when LGBTQ+ lives are increasingly visible in the media, the charity behind LGBT+ History Month encourages us to look ‘Behind the Lens’ and listen to people’s lived experiences who may not normally make headlines.

Celebrating Andrea

The highlight of this year’s LGBT+ History Month celebrations was a talk given by Senior Content Designer Nick Johnstone-Waddell, sharing the story of his sister, Andrea – a remarkable trans woman who sadly died at a young age. A human and animal rights campaigner, anti-war demonstrator, trans and women’s rights advocate, philosopher, holistic therapist, poet, model and intellectual, Andrea had always championed the disadvantaged and voiceless. Hippo colleagues heard about her life and poetry, with many being inspired by her creativity, fighting spirit and capacity to make the absolute most of every day of her life. In this poem, Andrea writes about the human condition and how despite everyone’s differences, deep down, there’s much more that unites us than divides us.

a young woman with blonde hair stood in front of some trees
Andrea Waddell

Being me
a poem by Andrea Waddell

too long I’ve been seeking
the essential truth of my being.
How I’d walk tall in the knowledge
I knew what life was about
and grasped the business of living.

Absenting this wisdom
I’m just a nobody all at sea,
yet how I crave
to nail my colours to the mast
so to join
the naval arena

all about folk parade
which announces they have crossed
a secret right of passage
and have thereby decided the business of life –

thus they flaunt secret knowledge –
how I wonder does this occultish Masonic club
have basis in fact or illusion
in times of peace,
an ensign carves a sphere in the social arena

in times of conflict,
an ensign flaunts an inner poise
and self-conviction
yet how can I commit
when I see that all identities

indeed, when I quiz
the truth of my being
I know there’s only a hole
instead of a gem

so needs must I transcend
the particularity
of me,
and I mentally knead the human predicament;
but isn’t it just such

we’re all cut
from the same spiritual stuff?
yet, I contend, every identity
expresses a facet of humanity,
potential in each;

for all sinners and saint,
straight and gay,
spinster or hitched,
Muslim or atheist
are simple refractions

of the single being of reason
while I grasp this truth closely
it splinters between my fingers
and I’m left to sort through the pieces.

Future Pride community plans

At Hippo, we strive to embody Andrea’s welcoming and accepting spirit through our vibrant Pride community. Our commitment to celebrating everyone’s unique backgrounds and identities is unwavering, and we are excited to share our future plans with you.

We are currently planning events and talks that highlight the incredible contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals in the workplace and in society. We believe that it is essential to recognise and appreciate the diversity of experiences and perspectives that make our community so rich and dynamic.

As a company, we are also eager to attend our first public Pride events. This is a significant step for us, and we cannot wait to show our support, solidarity and celebration of the wider LGBTQ+ community. Stay tuned for more updates and exciting developments from our vibrant and inspiring Pride community.