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Celebrating our Pride at the British Red Cross

Staff and volunteers combine Pride and environmental causes to celebrate LGBTQ+ identities.

“I had this idea of making use of rag fabric from our British Red Cross shops to create Pride flags,” says Becky Chapple, Volunteering Transformation Manager in the UK Crisis and Emergency Response team and co-chair of the British Red Cross’ LGBTQ+ network.

“I loved the idea of reflecting the multi-faceted, beautiful people who are part of our LGBTQ+ community through the variety of fabric in the pieces.

“Patterns and textures can be so evocative. When we see a piece of bright red denim, we think of a different person than if we see a pale blue floral pattern or a crisp white shirt cuff. All of those people are part of our LGBTQ+ family. 

“With British Red Cross shops up and down the UK, it seemed an ethical way to use any stained or damaged clothes, while celebrating the LGBTQ+ community.”

Becky rallied together enough staff and volunteers to make Pride flags for our Moorgate HQ and for Pride events around the UK later in the summer.

“I was also really keen that we find people with the skill to make the more complex, inclusive pride flags; welcoming everyone in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.”

One of these more complex, inclusive flags is the Intersex-Inclusive Progress Pride Flag.

Based on the iconic rainbow flag from 1978, the redesign celebrates the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community and calls for a more inclusive society.  The flag includes pink, blue and white to represent the transgender community, and black and brown to honour queer people of colour.

“I loved the idea of reflecting the multi-faceted, beautiful people who are part of our LGBTQ+ community through the variety of fabric in the pieces

Becky adds: “This project was only possible with support from across the organisation. Our retail team was critical – selecting and sending the fabric pieces. British Red Cross training allowed us to use space (and scissors!) and Crisis and Emergency Response volunteers and staff spent hours cutting and sewing under the guidance of our expert volunteers, Bibiana Fillnerova and Mia Barrere.”

From rags to flags

After using the rag fabric to create something new, the flags were then hung in our Moorgate HQ in London.

“The foyer display is in part to celebrate Pride in general. But is especially significant this year to celebrate the publication of the British Red Cross’ long-awaited Trans Inclusion Procedure and Guidance,” says Becky. 

“It’s a landmark moment in offering recognition, support, safety and welcome to trans and non-binary colleagues. 

“It’s only one step on a much longer journey for sure, but one worth celebrating.”


What does Pride mean?

Although LGBTQ+ activism had been happening long before The Stonewall Riots of 1969, they are recognised as the origins of Pride.

After suffering years of persecution by authorities, LGBTQ+ customers of Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York City, decided to fight back during a raid on 28 June.

A year later, on the 28 June 1970, the USA’s first Pride march was held in New York City. It was named to counteract the attitude of shame towards the LGBTQ+ community.

The UK held its first Pride on 1 July 1972. The first Pride flag, with eight stripes (it also had pink and turquoise, as well as the six colours used today), debuted in 1978, with the six striped flag being used since 1979.

Pride today can often feel like a celebration and a party, but it’s always been a political event. Pride brings awareness to the injustice that LGBTQ+ face and brings a sense of community for LGBTQ+ people.

At the British Red Cross, we support many LGBTQ+ service users, for example refugees who may have fled their home country because of their gender or sexuality.

There are 71 countries in which homosexuality is illegal, with several countries, such as Iran, Nigeria, and Yemen, still having the death penalty in place.

Pride in the UK is a safe place to find community and celebrate their true selves.

We’ll be going to at least one Pride in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland during summer 2024, to stand with our LGBTQ+ staff, volunteers and service users.

And we’ll be bringing our glad rags and handmade Pride flags with us. ❤️