Hi there. Me again. The person that writes these blog posts that rub people up the wrong way. The problematic one. The one who is only highlighting things for attention. The one who is riding on others coat-tails. The one who shouldn't point fingers. The one who is out to get everyone. The 'man in the dress'.
All of these things have been said to me directly either in person, via DM or in comments on our posts. The 'man in the dress' was how i was referred to all day at WTM, both to my face and behind my back.... which is HUGELY offensive, like, i cannot tell you how offensive. But i'm sure that after posting about it someone will try to tell me still that i'm the problem or i'm causing an unnecessary scene.....Sensing a theme here?
I could turn this post into a woe is me one, but i'm not prepared to use our platform to do that. Instead, let me say this. The fact that it is easier for a part of the travel community to label me as 'problematic' and 'ruffling feathers' for calling in REAL-TIME, REAL WORLD ISSUES and asking people to be better, whilst providing easy wins in how to do so, says so much.
It's actually not surprising either. Homophobia, transphobia, racism and lack of womens rights are still prevalent in wider society, so why would they not be here in the travel industry? If me simply asking for support and representation to be given to these communities by trade shows and the wider industry was seen as such an attack, so problematic, does this not speak volumes about the gaze of the industry?
IMAGINE ASKING AN INDUSTRY THAT THRIVES BY PROMOTING DIVERSE DESTINATIONS TO ACKNOWLEDGE & SUPPORT MINORITY GROUPS. WHAT A HORRIBLE 'MAN IN A DRESS'.
Let's be real, it's the sheer idea that we're taking up space trying to represent the underrepresented, challenging industry and societal norms and demanding a seat at the table is the real problem here and it's easier to label me as the villain than it is to acknowledge the problems themselves.
As always, I judge people on their actions and not their words. If y'all genuinely think that what we are doing here at Lightning is smoke and mirrors then you're entitled to your opinion and i'll respect that. But i'll be making myself and Lightning f*cking impossible to ignore so it's probs best to unsubscribe if you're not keen on real talk. Reason for unsubscribing? Not willing to change.
On the flip side of this, I wanted to thank so many of you personally right now. The UTTER JOY y'all brought myself and Ciarán at WTM and the various events we attended is priceless. We had conversations with diversity team leads, with senior male board members, with black industry activists, with instagram and Linkedin followers and it was truly incredible.
These convos were about how people are inciting change in their organisations, how they see us for what we're doing and how they support. It's not all about this, but I just needed to say THANK YOU to y'all who do support us, who support the wider cause and who see me for me - the non binary babe with a dream to make this industry a better place for everyone and not the problematic 'man in the dress'.
On this, we've also just secured our venue for our new ED&I events starting in January. These NOT FOR PROFIT events will be safe spaces, where each month we give a platform to people from the industry to tell their stories. We want the industry to come together and lift each other up to be better, to empower each other and to incite real change that isn't just a flash in the pan diversity tick box exercise.
I'll be there at the first event speaking about how it's not f*cking okay to comment on how another person dresses, to assume their gender and to outwardly think it's okay to call me a 'man in the dress'. We march on.
Full details will be announced soon, but if you know someone with a story to tell that you'd like to give a platform to, or if you'd be keen to speak yourself (no sales pitches please) then email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org