Inclusion Means No Exceptions and the fashion industry needs to present a message that is unifying of all people through equal representation inclusive of, but not exclusive to; gender, sexual orientation, and race.
Diversity and Inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals needs to felt for more than a fleeting catwalk moment or short campaign for Pride month and then forgotten for the rest of the year.
Currently there are approximately 3.6 million gay people in Britain - If those individuals cannot see themselves represented or be able to relate to a brand... Why would we want to buy your products?
For every person in the LGBTQ+ community, each experience of under-representation or misrepresentation in the fashion industry is different. Everyone has their opinion on whether LGBTQ+ colours used by fashion brands during pride or history month is appropriation or appreciation.
There are also many obstacles for LGBTQ+ in Pageantry. We are still trying to battle visibility in an historic, antiquated industry in desperate need of modernisation. Diversity in pageantry is a hot topic, as in December of 2019 for the first time in history, five of the most prestigious titles - Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss America - all held by women of colour. The latest Miss Universe saw its first openly lesbian finalist... but still no LGBTQ+ representations as a Queen! So as one as the first openly gay Queen in UK Pageantry it is so important just to exist as a LGBTQ+ Queen and be proud of it for the LGBTQ+ community.
Internationals Finals can also be a daunting place for a LGBTQ+ girl - Different countries from around the world come to compete. Each country have their own belief systems, backgrounds and religions therefore may not have any known LGBTQ+ visibility.
Pageantry is a hugely hetro-normative industry severely lacking in LGBTQ+ role models. There are LGBTQ+ women in Pageantry that are afraid to 'come out' due to fear of titles being striped away, fear of being judged differently, fear over potential homophobia. Pageantry is, however, being brought up to date with the 21st Century; becoming more modern and diverse. However, there are still a number of 'old fashioned' and outdated rules or terms and conditions. LGBTQ+ in pageantry needs to be given a voice and provide visibility for LGBTQ+ individuals.
As the first openly gay queen in mainstream UK Pageantry I hope to represent the change and be the beacon of light for those still hidden from sight due to fears of rejection instilled in them by an archaic industry.
Regardless of how far we’ve come, there’s still a long way to go. So what can we do to keep moving forward? We can use our voices.