This month, London celebrated Pride with its’ iconic parade and, after a night out with a friend, I found myself waiting for the train at Euston with ‘Mary-Jane’ (not her real name). It’s not the first time I’ve befriended someone of transgender and, given stigmas in society that the LGBT community still face, I was both curious and open to chatting to her, as I would be to any friendly and warm stranger.
While the masses were waiting on the concourse for the platform to be announced, we had both taken a gamble and were waiting by the barriers of the most likely departure platforms. We were right, and quickly made it on to the train before the floods of people followed. Sitting together, we continued our conversation and where we’d been that night – I’d been for dinner and had randomly ended up in a hip hop club in Shoreditch, while she had, for the first time, experienced the exhilaration and love from onlookers as she paraded down Regents Street on one of the many carnival floats. The photo’s she shared really made me smile as she too was smiling at the freedom of being accepted and cheered on by the crowds. She wasn’t shy!
I asked why she chose the name ‘Mary-Jane’ and she said it was the name of her first pair of women’s shoes. “That was fortunate”, I joked, to which she replied, “Yeh, it could have been Start-Rite!” How we laughed. Though, what stuck with me most from our conversation was that she worked in the very male dominated construction industry and yet she was ‘Mary-Jane’. Day in, day out. She didn’t hide who she was and this was refreshing for me, as I am fully aware of how I’ve often hidden myself – whether it was hiding behind emails, or hiding behind more outgoing friends – I was hiding my true essence.
Portrayals of the human condition can be rich and dramatic, yet from sharing our experiences we provide comfort and hope in the face of ignorance, hatred and injustice. Why pride matters? Because it’s a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from your own achievements, the achievements of others, or from qualities that are widely admired. Being conscious of your own dignity.
Why am I telling you this? Because when you reveal your true essence, you are open to new possibilities. By allowing yourself to be seen you allow new exciting opportunities to enrich your life. When you display transparency and inclusivity in life and in business, you create more meaningful and deeper relationships and, that’s what really matters.
So, do YOU, “everyone else is taken.” – Oscar Wilde, storyteller and gay icon