A "deeply honest and extraordinarily candid" photo essay of City of London professionals is back on display at the Guildhall this June — now featuring 45 new portraits of of LGBTQI+ people who work in and around the Square Mile.
CorporateQueer first went on show in 2021, with Fiona Freund's photographic portraits capturing marketing managers, IT consultants, security guards, artists, legal professionals — and even a lord — posing in their workplaces and by landmarks including the London Eye, Tower of London, Albert Bridge, and BT Tower.
From 24 June-2 July 2023, the show is back in the al fresco setting of Guildhall Yard — and the original 60 photos are joined by 45 fresh ones, including those of the current Lord Mayor of London, Nick Lyons; comedian and political activist Eddie Izzard; Sue Gossedge — Market Constable at Smithfield Market; and Broadgate jet washer/cleaner Michael David McLaughlan.
Accompanying each portrait is a quote from the subject. While peppered with pride and optimism, these quotes also highlight the many challenges and issues still faced by the LGBTQ+ community, in a UK in which less than 20% of LGBT+ are out at work, and 50% of transgender employees hide their workplace identity for fear of discrimination.
Says Izzard in her quote: "When I came out in 1985, I realised that being trans was almost invisible in society and that we were not considered part of our society (we didn’t even have the word trans then). I also knew I was gender fluid but we didn’t even have that phrase back then... I encourage all people to be their authentic selves, to be proud and stand their ground in public and in the workplace. Fortune favours the brave!"
Says Jacqui Rhule-Dagher, Associate at Hogan Lovells International LLP — and another new addition to the exhibition: "When I first entered the legal industry, I was so deep in the closet that I could have been mistaken for Aslan from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. My Monday morning routine typically consisted of rehearsing lines on the tube to the much-dreaded question: 'What did you do at the weekend?' I was terrified that I might out myself if I revealed too much to my colleagues.
"My trepidation stemmed from the fact that I, rarely, if ever, met other openly lesbian lawyers. If you don't meet people like you, you can start to think that there is something wrong with you. Being Black and female was challenging enough, without adding my sexuality into the mix. Today, I am proudly out."
Suki Sandhu OBE, founder and CEO at Involve says: "I've always felt like an outsider in business and it's probably why I started my own companies. Why do you need to wear a tie and suit in business to be successful? You don't.
"I haven't worn a tie in over 10 years. I see it as my own little protest against those in positions of power and influence."
The Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury says in his quote: "Whilst you must fight like a tiger to take up issues of LGBT+ equality, you mustn't let that become the only thing that defines you.
"The confidence and freedom that come from being proud of your own identity enable you to make a real difference and bring freedom for others too."
CorporateQueer is in Guildhall Yard in the City, every day from 24 June-2 July 2023. Entry is free.