If you are not tagged as “straight” then Hackney may be one of the best places to visit, with the east London borough scoring highly in Stonewall’s 2011 Workplace Equality Index.
The borough moved up 20 places in the index, which showcases the top 100 gay-friendly employers, ranking fifth amongst all councils and twenty-third nationwide. The council has also announced two events to celebrate LGBT History month in February.
‘Ethnic Minorities Coming Out’ is a photography exhibition on display in Hackney Museum until 7 March, featuring portraits by photographer Sonalle representing an alternative way to fight homophobia.
Text accompanying the images was transcribed from interviews with the participants, describing personal experiences of revealing their sexuality. The text beside one man’s portrait reads: “‘Mother I’m a homosexual.’ She sat down on her bed, took her cigarettes and promptly smoked 10 non-stop. She said, ‘How do you know? Which old man touched you up?’”
Sonalle said: “I am aware of the difficulties of coming out in ethnic minority societies. Family and friends often suffer due to their narrow-mindedness, hurting or rejecting the person coming out.
“Participating in the development of this photographic project offered the subjects a new means of expression.”
Also, an oral history project called ‘Walking Proud in East London’ is to be launched on 10 February at Hackney Museum. A community organization called ‘River Cultures’ has collected the individual stories and memories of 51 LGBT interviewees across the four boroughs in an effort to help people understand equality and diversity.
Deputy Mayor of Hackney, Cllr Karen Alcock, whose portfolio covers Equalities, said: “The Council is committed to ensuring a workplace environment free from discrimination, and where all staff can reach their potential.
“We know that Hackney is a diverse borough, and being recognised within Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index is a clear demonstration of the Council’s commitment to promoting equality for all.”
See previous ELL article