Wellbeing at work

Pride Month: meet Harrison Foss

July 11, 2023

June is Pride Month, when the world's LGBTQ+ communities come together and celebrate the freedom to be themselves.  

At Desana, we stand firmly against discrimination and are committed to implementing LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. So this year, we invited Harrison Foss to share his experiences, and discuss the importance of LGBTQ+ representation. He joined Desana in June 2021 and lives in North London with Teddy, his adorable cockapoo.

What does Pride mean to you?

It’s an opportunity to come together with like-minded others and celebrate our and others’ journeys; to recognise the efforts of others in fighting for equality whilst also remembering there is still much more work to do. This year feels a little more special as we weren’t able to enjoy the physical Pride for the last two years, and July is the fifth anniversary of my “coming out”.

What are you most proud of (it could be something related to your journey in life, your personal growth, your professional achievements)?

I was a little late to ‘the party’, and so my sexuality was my big secret until I was 28 through fear of rejection from family, friends, colleagues and strangers. I needed to feel safe and able to say it to myself before I could say it to someone else. Five years later and I’m able to be my authentic self, with nothing but acceptance from those around me - I’m no longer performing 24/7, I get to be me and I’m so proud of ‘old me’ for coming so far.

How do you think we can celebrate Pride this month and all year long?

Immerse yourselves into the celebrations and talk about what’s out there - parades, festivals, community events, LGBTQ+-owned businesses. Pride is an all-inclusive event and attending as an ally is just as important. There are Pride celebrations across multiple countries and their cities across the summer months - use it as an opportunity to explore and get involved. I’ll be attending both London and Manchester Pride this year - so from a superficial perspective, it’s also nice to enjoy a bit of glitter and a new outfit!

Any tips on your favourite spaces with vibrant LGBTQ+ communities in the UK or anywhere in the world?

I love travelling to St Petersburg in Florida - it’s such a progressive city and despite the publicised steps backwards in Florida of late, this city continues to wave our flags. They have rainbow crosswalks, their LGBTQ+ friendly bars are popular hangouts for all and they put on a fantastic event for Pride itself at the end of June! It’s a real family and community event in their city.

How can allies support members of the LGBTQ+ community at work and in society?

For many members of the community, there’s been a significant journey around identity and acceptance, navigating environments and feeling safe and welcome. Helping to create that safe environment, welcoming queer people and recognising their achievements and strengths will always leave someone feeling valued. It’s not all lunchtime talk of DragRace and Britney, even though we do love it…

Do you feel that this aspect of your identity is supported and celebrated by Desana?

We’re supporting thousands of users across over fifty countries and we recognise the communities within those. At this level, we’re looking forward to adjusting the amenities to show workspaces that have gender-neutral bathrooms, and encouraging the inclusion of pronouns in our email signatures and Slack profiles. From a personal perspective, I’ve never had to “come out” at Desana, colleagues have asked questions to better their learning, and there is a genuine interest in Pride, its history and how we as a global team can celebrate.

Any opinions on how far the LGBTQ+ community has come and what still needs to be done?

The progress to date should never be ignored - for example, only seven years ago did it become legal for me to marry another man. However, we need to be aware that not all of us within the LGBTQ+ community have equal rights. It’s working progress and we are even seeing progress overturned in some locations, and this is why we need Pride and our allies more than ever. For as long as a child is believing their life is not worth living because of their sexual or gender identity, there will always be work to do.

Some resources and ways you can be a better ally

* Listen to what LGBTQ+ people are saying.

* Donate your money or time to the organisations that support LGBTQ+ causes.

* Educate yourself and stay informed by following LGBTQ+ topics in the news to keep up to date on the current issues for the community.

* Be mindful about confidentiality and "outing”.