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Access All Areas 30under30 2024 member Robyn Templeman (pictured), a freelancer who has worked on event projects for companies such as LS Events and U-Live, suggests ways in which the festival industry can better support the LGBTQ+ community all year-round.

Pride Month is here, and with it comes a flurry of celebrations and events that shine a spotlight on the LGBTQ+ community. From Mighty Hoopla kicking off the month to London Pride closing it, a vibrant array of queer events are happening all around us. Pride Month serves as a crucial tool for championing, celebrating, and supporting LGBTQ+ individuals. However, it’s essential that we don’t confine our efforts to this one month alone.

Organisations within the festival and events industry must embrace a year-round commitment to fostering inclusivity and acceptance as the standard, not the exception. By taking consistent and proactive steps throughout the year, we can create events where everyone feels welcome, respected, and celebrated every single day.

As a young queer professional in the industry, I’ve witnessed firsthand some of the unique challenges and opportunities our community can face. Whilst festivals and large-scale events have immense potential to be a beacon of inclusivity and support for the community, to truly harness this potential, we need to take intentional steps to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for both staff and attendees. Here’s my personal take on how we can help make this happen.

Empowerment Through Company Policies and Training

The foundation of an inclusive festival starts with robust company policies and training. First off, a zero-tolerance anti-discrimination policy is crucial. This policy should be communicated loud and clear to all staff, volunteers, and attendees – discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity will not be tolerated. This could be communicated through a wide range of channels: public social media accounts, company websites, public relations – any way of communicating company-wide support could help steer off any unwelcome attitudes.

Staff training is equally important. Regular training sessions for core staff could cover essential topics such as the correct use of pronouns, recognising and addressing microaggressions, and understanding specific gender and sexuality related issues that may arise in a festival context. Providing such training can help ensure employees keep diversity and inclusion at the front of their minds when working on projects.

Additionally, it can be extremely beneficial to provide LGBTQ+ guidance in staff handbooks and inductions for those organisations who bring freelancers onboard for events. Resources like Yourope’s Diversity and Inclusion Toolset and the AIF’s guidance on supporting LGBTQ+ survivors of abuse and violence are some great examples of invaluable tools which provide practical advice and reports on gender-based issues within the industry.

Creating a Safe and Inclusive Environment Onsite

Making an inclusive environment onsite involves implementing practical measures that cater to the needs of LGBTQ+ attendees. One simple yet significant step is providing gender-neutral bathrooms. This straightforward provision can make a world of difference for attendees of all gender identities, ensuring they feel comfortable and respected.

Inclusive signage and communications are extremely vital too. Increasing the visibility and representation of LGBTQ+ identities throughout the festival grounds, including rainbow flags, signage, and other symbols of LGBTQ+ pride, creates a welcoming and affirming atmosphere for attendees of all sexual orientations and gender identities. As well as this, providing LGBTQ+ friendly spaces and ensuring welfare staff are trained to handle LGBTQ+ related issues (such as sexual violence, gender-identity issues, hate crimes, and conversion therapy) is key for ensuring attendees are appropriately cared for. And this support shouldn’t just be at queer events – we should strive to make such support standard at all festivals.

Onsite support for staff is just as essential. While festivals celebrate diversity by bringing together people of various backgrounds and beliefs, this diversity can occasionally create awkward, uncomfortable, or potentially risky situations for queer staff members, whether with attendees or other staff/volunteers. To address this, clear incident reporting mechanisms and protocols should be communicated in advance, ensuring staff know how to report and resolve issues promptly. This proactive approach fosters a safer and more supportive working environment for everyone involved.

Spotlighting Diversity Through Inclusive Programming

Inclusive programming is another powerful and easy way to support the LGBTQ+ community. This starts with featuring diverse lineups at festivals, ensuring LGBTQ+ performers, speakers, and artists are prominently included. Highlighting their talents and voices not only enriches the festival experience but also sends a strong message of inclusivity and support. Whilst queer acts are being featured more and more at major events, and queer-spotlighting festivals, like Luckjuice, are emerging in the UK’s festival roster, we still have a long way to go to achieve widespread representation in the industry.

Inclusivity should extend to industry events like trade shows as well. These events should feature LGBTQ+ voices and perspectives, providing platforms for discussion and education on LGBTQ+ issues within the industry. Hosting LGBTQ+ specific events or panels can foster greater understanding and support among industry professionals, encouraging broader inclusivity across all events. By actively seeking out and promoting the voices of queer professionals in leadership roles, speaking engagements, and decision-making processes, we can ensure that LGBTQ+ perspectives are not only heard but actively valued and integrated into the fabric of our industry’s discourse and practices.

While Pride Month brings a surge of visibility and celebration, our commitment to the LGBTQ+ community must extend far beyond a single month. Ensuring we have a truly representative and supportive industry requires embedding inclusivity into the DNA of our industry year-round. By prioritising robust company policies, comprehensive staff training, and creating safe and affirming onsite environments, we lay the foundation for events where diversity thrives. Spotlighting LGBTQ+ voices through inclusive programming and industry events is essential for fostering understanding and support among peers and attendees alike. Together, let’s ensure that our festivals and events not only welcome but champion LGBTQ+ individuals every day of the year, paving the way for an inclusive future.