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Reflections on Pride in London 2023

20 July 2023

By Matthew Redford (view more by this author)
Matthew is GOsC's Chief Executive and Registrar.

Matthew shares his experience of the GOsC taking part in the Pride in London parade for the first time, making history with GOsC colleagues, stakeholders and osteopaths.

A selfie of Matthew Redford, GOsC Chief Executive and Registrar in a rainbow cowboy hat and GOsC Pride tshirtOn Saturday 1 July 2023 the osteopathic community made history. We were there, taking part in the annual LGBT+ festival and parade, Pride in London – under the banner of the General Osteopathic Council. United, and walking together.

But let me be clear at the outset. I am not writing this with my Chief Executive and Registrar hat on, and in case anyone was wondering, I’m not writing this with my Pride inspired cowboy hat on either.

No, this is a blog to celebrate inclusivity, equality, diversity and belonging.

  • This is a blog which recognises and acknowledges all of those who have come before us and fought for equal rights.
  • This is a blog which recognises that we still have a distance to travel.
  • This is a blog which recognises that not everyone is able to be their true self safely.
  • And this is a blog which recognises that as a profession, osteopathy is open to all and welcomes and embraces everyone.

A group of people in GOsC Pride logo t shirts celebrating Pride in London 2023

On that Saturday an osteopathic collaboration formed: osteopaths; students; allies to the LGBT+ community; colleagues from the professional body the Institute of Osteopathy; and colleagues, past and present, from the GOsC. We gathered outside the Dorchester Hotel, made our way into the parade and, after much searching found our lollipop to show who we were – well done Vince for finding it and huge respect to Ed for carrying it with such style!

Two images of GOsC attendees at Pride in London holding the GOsC lollypop sign

The common cause was clear. To signal to the wider world that we exist, that we are visible and that diversity is a strength. Throughout the parade there were people from all backgrounds, of all races, faiths, ages, genders and sexualities. And there was a common thread which held it all together, it was one of love and friendship.

I’ll be honest, as we started to walk in the parade, I found it a little emotional and overwhelming – so I was grateful for the sunglasses which hid my eyes.

Here we were; it was happening; and the osteopathic community was represented.

There was a fantastic vibe throughout the whole parade. We walked, we danced (some better than others!) and we formed new bonds. The crowds were in great voice, cheering everyone along all the way from Park Lane to Whitehall. It was a great day and by the end of the parade we were already turning our thoughts to Pride 2024, and perhaps making this an annual event. We’re also considering options outside of London next year, so watch this space!

A group of GOsC staff, osteopaths and stakeholders posing in GOsC Pride logo tshirts in Pride in London 2023

And so, to sign off this blog I would like to share with you a few words and thoughts from some of those who attended Pride with us. There were too many to include everyone’s, for which I apologise. I hope they won’t mind me describing them as my parade history-making friends, because that is now how I see them.

Thanks so much for making Saturday happen. It was one of the most inspirational things I have ever done. And to do so with a great bunch of people was the icing on the cake. It was very uplifting to have so many people supporting such an important event and, incidentally, cheering enthusiastically for healthcare involvement and making positive comments about osteopaths specifically.

This goodwill was humbling and very encouraging. In a world where hard-won gains in human rights cannot be taken for granted, I am proud to have been part of such a historic day for the osteopathic profession. On a personal note, the profession recently prematurely lost my very dear friend, Savash Mustafa, a great osteopath who embodied all the finest qualities of kindness, respect and acceptance. Being a great advocate of human rights, he was very much on my mind as we walked.

Vince, Osteopath

I wanted to support this particularly to help make LGBT+ osteopaths more visible in our profession but also to send a strong message to patients that as a profession we are there to help everyone.

It was so fantastic when the crowds applauded us as we walked past them and there was a clear recognition of who we are, and [there were] maybe even some patients in the crowd too. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to take part and help promote the role of GOsC to the LGBT+ community and in doing so it felt like we were making history. We definitely need some catchy songs to sing for next year!

Karen, Osteopathic Student

The main thing that Pride represents to me has always been about visibility and inclusion. These days Pride London has all of British society in the parade which is a really nice thing to see. This shows how much the LGBT+ community is part of everything.

No matter how many times I have been to Pride, whether in the parade or watching, it is truly affirming to have everyone positively cheering and celebrating your identity.

I think Pride is still very important today with the increase of anti-LGBT voices trying to move things backwards. Pride is a progressive movement that has and continues to bring about positive change to LGBT+ people.

Dean, GOsC member of staff

It was very enjoyable and I liked representing an organisation who are standing up for what's right.

Jo, Council member, Institute of Osteopathy

The progress of the LGBTQ+ community with our allies in embracing diversity is truly inspiring. Throughout our journey, we prioritise inclusivity and engage in meaningful dialogues that teach us all the importance of tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion, even when faced with disagreements on core aspects of our identity, such as transgender individuals participating in sports. With creativity and empathy, we can find solutions that unite us.

As a gay man, I have experienced support from the osteopathic community, even during the darker days of the HIV epidemic. The British School of Osteopathy (as was) established the Blanchard clinic for people affected by HIV in the 1990s.

The GOsC’s participation in the London Pride parade aligns with their equality strategy, and showcases their ongoing efforts to foster an inclusive society. Let's applaud GOsC for their commitment to promoting equality and diversity!

Martin, Osteopath