Heathrow Airport has unveiled the latest LGBTI faces of its Welcome Campaign to celebrate Pride month.
Today’s launch marks the second year of the inclusive campaign at Europe’s largest airport located on the outskirts of London.
Those featured in the campaign include LGBTI employees of Heathrow Airport and Gay Star News competition winners.
GSN invited readers to enter the competition during this year’s Digital Pride festival. The winners were Dr Elly Barnes MBE, Keith Khan and Darren Mew.
Daniel Edwards, Senior VIP Commercial Manager at Heathrow Airport told GSN: ‘It’s amazingly exciting to see myself on the poster! I guess, for me, as Deputy Chair of the Proud Network, Heathrow is a gateway to the world. And there are so many places in the world where there are people who are persecuted for just being who they are.
‘So I feel we have a responsibility as an airport to be visible. And welcome people who are coming to Heathrow. Especially from places where it’s not so great to be LGBT.’
Adam Sunderland, HR Business Partner at Heathrow Airport, furthermore said: ‘Today drives home the importance of Pride and our support of our colleagues and passengers. It makes me feel really proud.’
Ginny Masselot, a Heathrow Airport Security Officer who is also featured in the campaign, told GSN: ‘Today means a lot to me. It means “don’t be scared of who you are.”‘
Appearing with Ginny in the picture is partner Maria Radford. The Heathrow Passenger Experience Manager was moved to tears when presented with the poster. Maria furthermore enthused: ‘It’s great that Heathrow has given us this opportunity.’
‘I’m really proud’
John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport, told Gay Star News: ‘What I realized last year on our Pride Day was, this isn’t just about making sure people can bring themselves to work, be relaxed about who they are and feel very welcome. It’s also about championing British values to the world.
‘There are 80 million international travelers coming through here, very often to countries where it’s illegal [to be LGBTI], or even punishable by the death penalty to be gay. We need to stand up for our values.
‘That’s exactly what we did earlier this year with Royal Brunei [Airlines], where we used the Pride advertising to focus on the gates and check in areas where Royal Brunei flew out of, to stand up for British values. I’m really proud that we can do that. There’s a great opportunity to do that with other nationalities. To make sure liberal values that make Britain such a great place to live are shared with the world.’
‘It was a quiet thing,’ Holland-Kaye added of the focus of Pride advertising near to Royal Brunei’s check in area. ‘But it was the faces of our security officers, colleagues and our fantastic Pride champions who were being promoted to travelers to Brunei.’
Asked about the response, Holland-Kaye continued: ‘Well, ultimately, we were a small part of a much bigger campaign which has led to a change in policy in Brunei. We had enquiries from the Foreign Office about how far we might choose to go. But actually, it was all done in a very positive spirit. I’m glad we were able to stand up for our values.’
Royal Brunei Airlines is wholly owned by the government of Brunei.
‘We’re not born racist, sexist, homophobic, biphobic, transphobic’
Dr Elly Barnes MBE [pictured at the top of this article], the CEO & Founder of Educate & Celebrate, a UK charity that makes schools and organizations more LGBTI-friendly, told GSN: ‘Today is all about visibility.
‘I’m still working in schools pretty much every day of the week, trying to change opinion. We’re talking about discrimination constantly. Why do some people have bigoted views? We’re not born racist, sexist, homophobic, biphobic or transphobic. These are learnt behaviors. In schools and businesses, we are getting people to unlearn prejudice.
‘This for me is about education and inclusion. It’s about being there as part of the community. Just like everybody else.
‘It’s always a bit of a shocker, [seeing yourself on a billboard]! Who wants to see their big face staring back at them? But I was thrilled, actually. And proud. Because we are in such a horrible political climate right now.
‘We are feeling the pressure as a charity when we go in and do work. Those values that seem to be around at the moment which are very right-wing and bigoted seem to have infiltrated opinion within schools. So the more visible I can be, the more vocal, the more people we can get to with the work we do at Educate & Celebrate, the prouder I am!’