Proud of Pride

This month and always, Ted Baker stands hand in hand with the LGBTQIA+ community. We’re proud of the many voices, choices, pronouns and preferences that make us who we are.

This Pride, we’ll be shining a spotlight on voices, faces and stories from the community and showcasing our charity partner akt and the amazing work they do with young LGBTQIA+ people across the UK facing homelessness or living in hostile environments.

Here’s to Pride, positive change and all the homemade rainbow flags in-between.

Charlie Condou

Actor, akt patron, proud dad. We sat down with familiar face Charlie Condou to talk all things Pride, family and love. Oh, and tea and toast in bed.

This Pride, he’ll be celebrating by making rainbow flags with his kids and husband Cam, but also reflecting on the work that’s still to be done.

Pride in 3 words? Respect, privilege, progress. Charlie’s proud of how far things have come in the last 30 years, proud that he can call his partner his husband, proud of his family and kids, when for so long such a dream wasn’t possible. But whilst there’s a lot to celebrate, Charlie is keen to see more. From the remaining stigma around HIV, to youth LGBTQIA+ homelessness, he sees Pride is a reminder of all the things we still need to do better. We need to shout as loud as we can to protect the more vulnerable, especially in places less accepting.

Inspired by pillars of the community, such as Sir Ian McKellen and Michael Cashman, he believes there’s a lesson in there for all of us in how to be unapologetically ourselves. And what can allies to the community do better? Listen, learn and be open minded. Only then can we all grow together.

Trev Flash

Meet Trev (they/them). Caseworker at akt and nature lover. Shout out for their dog Chips, too.

For Trev, Pride is all about allyship, activism, and celebration; and this July they’ll be proudly marching at Trans Pride. They reflected on how their work makes them feel empowered, proud, and resilient, and how feeling good in their body makes them feel sexy, too.

Being a caseworker at akt involves protecting vulnerable young LGBTQIA+ people who have been left without a home following discrimination, persecution or abandonment. They see hope in youth, and believe the younger generation to be more accepting and tolerant of all sexualities, genders and identities. Trev’s work links this youth with like-minded people from the community, and opens up a space where they will never have to be defensive.

From marching in Brighton pride as a young member of the LGBTQIA+ community, to having the emotional resilience to continue their work at akt, Trev’s sees Pride as, yes, a party, but also a fight which will still need fighting today and always.

Annie Lishman

Illustrator, Ted Baker retail team member, occasional drag queen. Meet Annie, a bisexual woman with a bit of a thing for Freddie Mercury. (Who can blame her?)

Pride in four words? Love, acceptance, celebration, protest. She’ll be going to London Pride to dance, celebrate, have fun, but also mark the protest by remembering those who went before, reflecting on what’s still to be done and being thankful for the community as she sees it.

Annie is the second of our participants to shout out the iconic Dalston Superstore – East London’s self-described ‘notorious big queer pleasure palace’. She shares how she feels empowered by her friends and gay clubs, and loves the feeling of acceptance, contentment and when everything just “clicks in to place”. Having such a diverse and supportive group of friends has allowed her to explore and feel liberated. When it comes to drag, she loves the acceptance, the euphoria and transformative power of taking on a brand new persona.

So, how about what more can be done? In short, Annie calls for better representation. In particular for trans and non-binary people, but also for pansexual, asexual and bisexual people. Ultimately, she wants to see the day where those labels are not even a question any more. In terms of wider support, people can do much more by always calling out discriminative behaviour, question people’s assumptions, openly and visibly show support, embrace the community and don’t forget to ask people’s pronouns.

Jamie Shardlow

Jamie Shardlow is one of our own. A graphic designer on the Ted Baker creative team, he identifies as a gay man with he/him pronouns.

This pride? He will keep celebrations low-key, but might end up in the famed gay club Dalston Superstore; somewhere he feels at home to celebrate his sexuality and flutter away his rent money. Jamie spoke about what’s still to be done in the LGBTQIA+ community so everyone feels welcome, and how love and being authentic is the root of feeling empowered.

Pride in 3 words? Community, reflection and celebration. Oh, and his Pride anthem is I’m Coming Out by Diana Ross. When it comes to feeling empowered, it’s all about having the trust, freedom and respect to being his authentic self.

Jamie told us that to be an ally, there should be respect for queer spaces and that people should have an open mind and be prepared to listen. He wants to see greater equality for trans people and believes it should be nobody’s business how someone chooses to identify. Jamie’s views on love have gotten more hopeful the older he gets. For him, love is a place which is safe. He counts himself lucky to have support from his colleagues (hey, Jamie…), friends and at home. But a special shout out to his dad is in order – Jamie’s biggest supporter.

Nathan East

Nathan East (he/him) is a caseworker at akt, a gay male whose Pride anthem is Kylie's Better The Devil You Know, describing it as the "best pop song ever". (Who are we to argue?)

Nathan sat down with us to reflect on why it’s important for the LGBTQIA+ community to be seen and accepted. He wants to see world without gender boundaries and much greater acceptance and support for trans youth.

What does Pride mean to him? It’s a time to honour what’s been, and what’s left to do. And although Pride can be a vulnerable time, it’s also a chance to reconnect with people he’s helped through akt in the past. The young people akt helps have often been through a lot, but he wants them to be seen as more than survivors; "they’re funny, resilient and have loads to give". Trans youth, in particular, is something everyone should be talking about, says Nathan. They often suffer poor mental health and are put in dangerous situations. Nathan wants to see a world where they’re safe to express themselves however they want to.

Empowerment for Nathan manifests itself in the small things. Things like his friends taking their kids to Pride and people not making a fuss about his sexuality help him feel seen. It takes a weight off his shoulders and can also be emotional. Being allowed to be himself is something which is paramount to his journey in his sexuality. His LGBTQIA+ role model is Bayard Rustin – a leader in social movements in America for civil and gay rights. Bayard, Nathan says, was always himself and he wants to celebrate an often forgotten hero in the LGBTQIA+ community.

Cat Lee

Meet Cat, the Ethics, Sustainability & Communities Lead here at Ted Baker. She identifies as a straight woman and lives in south London with her husband Dan. For Cat, Pride is all about celebration, love and courageousness.

Behind the scenes, Cat works tirelessly bringing to life partnerships with our chosen charities, facilitating the support we’re able to share with the causes we believe in. One of those partnerships is the Albert Kennedy Trust, and she says it’s a privilege to help support akt in the work they do across the UK in finding LGBTQIA+ youth safe places to live.

"We are incredibly excited to partner with the Albert Kennedy Trust for this year’s Pride. AKT are an inspiring charity who have been going since 1989, but have been helping more people than ever since the start of the pandemic. The Trust provides accommodation, advocacy, mentoring and support for LGBTQIA+ youth who are either homeless, at risk of homelessness or severely at risk in their home environment just for being brave enough to come out."

Whilst Pride is a time to celebrate, it’s also a chance to reflect on the work that’s still to be done. "I really hope to see a truly equal society across the globe, where regardless of where you live in the world, everybody has the freedom to live their life fearlessly."