I am almost 58 years old and come from a generation in the UK which has had a long way to go in terms of being accepting of those who don’t happen to be white and straight.
When I was younger, the word ‘gay’ meant something entirely different to what it does now. Cheap jokes abounded about homosexuals; camp caricatures starred in prime-time televisions shows. At the time, it seemed acceptable to me. That was the culture.
But, over time, I’m glad to say, I’ve become better educated and have come to realise that these were insensitive, inappropriate portrayals – and hugely inaccurate.
Being brought up in West London, I quickly became used to seeing and interacting with people from ethnic backgrounds that were different to mine. I knew I wasn’t a racist – and I was convinced that I wasn’t homophobic. But unconscious bias is something entirely different. Learned stereotypes can be ingrained, hard to spot and even tougher to address.
Years ago, I would be in discussions with friends who would sometimes ask the question: “what would you do if one of your children was gay?” I would still love them of course; it would make no difference I would say.
Then, four years ago, my 21-year-old daughter came home from a year abroad in Australia as part of her degree. She told me she was gay. I asked her if she wanted me to tell her brother and she said yes, “…and tell him his gaydar stinks”!!
Of course, I loved her. I do love her. There is no hesitation – just pride.
My daughter is living in London in a lovely flat with her partner. Both of them work at the very heart of the UK Government during these extraordinary times, in the Cabinet Office and the Government Office on Science. They enjoy a lovely life, “the best life” as she calls it.
So, Pride is the absolute best word. But maybe I would add another one: “joy”. Pride and joy.
About the Author
Mark Harvey is a Partner, Head of Specialist Claims and leads our Hugh James office in London. He has obtained compensation for many individual victims of common but defective consumer products as well as those of accidents overseas and arising out of travel, sport and leisure generally. Most recently he and his team have helped many victims of data breaches recover compensation and correction of their data.
Mark was one of the lead lawyers securing compensation for victims of the Gerona air crash and Southall and Paddington rail disasters, as well as being instructed in the MH17 air crash litigation helping secure compensation for a British family. He represents several British and foreign nationals in UK based employer and product liability litigation, including a helicopter air accident in Norway, survivors of an African safari accident as well as a French victim from an accident off the African coast
He has lectured extensively around Britain, mainland Europe and the US on personal injury matters and broadcasts regularly on television and radio, including being the Travel Law expert for the BBC Consumer programme, X Ray.
He has been described as a “Leader in Personal injury and Product Liability” in Chambers and Partners and Legal 500 for 1999-2020 as well as being entered into the Hall of Fame in the Legal 500.