June would have been the focus for many of this year’s Pride events. But COVID-19 has stopped that. What does Pride mean for the LGBTQ+ community and their allies in adland? Outvertising’s Lucy McKillop (she/her) and Mark Runacus MBE (he/him) discuss.
"I’ve been through three Pride phases in my life," says Mark Runacus, who in his day job is founder of creative agency Wax/On, and in his voluntary gay job, Chair of Outvertising, advertising’s LGBTQ+ advocacy group. "The first era was when I was in the closet at work and only out to a few close friends. I was like most LGBTQ+ graduates who hide their true self when they start their career. In those days I was too scared to get involved in the Pride march. A decade or so later, as I’d come out to more friends, I started going to the Pride celebrations at the end of the march. In those days the march ended with a big gig, a bit like a music festival. But you know it’s only since I’ve been part of Outvertising that I’ve actually joined the parade. That’s because in Outvertising I finally found my tribe: other queer folk who like me love advertising and marketing, and just happen to be LGBTQ+. It was on one of those Pride marches, just a few years ago, that for the first time I felt comfortable holding my Partner’s hand in public walking down Regent Street, and carrying an Outvertising banner in the other hand."
Pride for me is a rare chance to be my authentic self.
Lucy McKillop is Co-Director of Communications for Outvertising, Head of Brand Marketing at Clearchannel, and proud parent. "Pride for me is about family, in many senses of the word" she says. "Since my son could barely speak, we’ve talked about what love is and means. How humans love humans, and it doesn’t matter what your gender is; all love is equal; love means love. We talk openly about sexuality and the LGBTQ+ community a lot, not least because I’m bisexual, and I want him to understand that even though I’m in a heterosexual relationship, that it doesn’t mean my bisexuality goes away, something that I think so many people assume."
I’m working hard to erase the ‘It’s just a phase’ narrative that seems to mean that the “B” of LGBTQ+ can get left behind.
"That's why I was planning to bring my son to the parade this year for the first time, to immerse him in the wonderfully freeing feeling that Pride creates, so the disappointment at having to skip a year is even bigger than it would have been otherwise."
Outvertising is advertising’s volunteer-run LGBTQ+ advocacy group, encouraging brands and their creative and media partners to be more LGBTQ+ inclusive in their advertising. They offer free resources to brands wanting to create more inclusive advertising, and free training to LGBTQ+ people and straight allies to become visible role models. For more on what Pride means to adland's LGBTQ+ community, listen to Outvertising's latest podcast.