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Pride: It's OK to be you

Mac Castro, Chief of Staff, Brand, Marketing and Communications, Lloyd's

Happy 50th Pride

Pride is knowing that it’s OK to be you even if you don’t see any proof of that fact. It’s also a reminder you have the ability and the freedom to be who you are and openly love the people you choose to love without stigma or shame.

While increasing numbers of young people now spring out of the closet with confidence and joy, many of us from an earlier generation, still live with the emotional scars of growing up hated or feared. The generation before mine was decimated by HIV and AIDS, while my generation was subjected to the extreme homophobia of the media. At times, considered public enemy number one, gay men and women were painted as dangerous monsters at any opportunity.

At the start of my professional career, no one in the office had the types of conversation we have now. There were no role models and many times it felt as if you were the only gay person either at school or in the office. Being that sole representative of an ‘alternative lifestyle’, it meant being the butt of everyone’s jokes. Trust me, I’ve heard them all. There were no allowances for the fact that, yes, quite possibly, some people are different, and they deserved – and needed – to be loved and supported for who they were.

It’s been incredibly moving to see this shift and change over the years. Especially back in 2014 at Lloyd’s with diversity and inclusion front and centre of the agenda. Suddenly a plethora of employee networking groups started to appear. Conversations were being had that, once upon a time, would never have taken place in an office, openly and proudly. These forums provided not only peer support but also a channel to raise awareness of diversity related challenges.

Around that time, an article appeared on MyLloyd’s by Marcus Alldrick, our then Senior Information Risk and Protection Manager, asking for volunteers to establish an ‘LGBTQ+’ network at Lloyd’s. The first network of its kind to join the newly formed Cultural Diversity Group and Women’s Group. 

For those of us who remember Marcus, he was quite the character. Brimming with enthusiasm, charm and a wicked sense of humour, he was the champion for LBGTQ+ issues at Lloyd’s. Within a few days he’d recruited the first Pride@Lloyd’s team which consisted of Cory Clines from Lloyd’s America, Kathryn Richards from Group Tech, our much missed John White from Risk Management, Josh Brekenfeld (now over at Aspen) and me from Communications.

We spent the last part of 2014 discussing how the group would run, our experiences, stories, aims and emotional scars. Our agenda set out a programme for us to outreach, advocate and assist. Events were planned, meetings were attended, conversations struck up, allies put together…it was a wildly exciting time. At times emotional, especially when you’d hear from a colleague who would reach out to thank you for being such a great role model. 

Pride@Lloyd’s officially launched in 2015 and while some of us came and went, the group went from strength to strength. What an honour to have played a small part in that original team. It’ll be something I’m forever proud of.

So, here we are in 2022. The world is still a confusing place but we’ve seen so many extraordinary social changes. Homophobia still exists and many still struggle to accept their gayness or live in a society where it isn’t illegal to love who you want to love.

"It still takes courage to show up, masks off, in the world – to speak and be who you are. But Pride is there as a reminder that being who you are, is OK. Actually, it’s great. To be proud to have the guts and courage to love and not suffer the shame of simply being you. Wonderful, complicated, funny, supportive, infuriating, charming you".

I think Shakespeare probably said it best: ‘This above all to thine own self be true”.

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About the author

Mac Castro is Chief of Staff for Brand, Marketing and Communications at Lloyd's, and a founding member of the Lloyd's Pride and Allies group.

Mac Castro - Chief of Staff, Brand, Marketing & Communications - Lloyd's

15 Jun 2022