Celebrating Pride

Diversity and inclusion have been an important part of the VSI Group since its founding in 1989. It’s central to our values that our staff represent the whole community in which we live.

This Pride month, we celebrate the diversity of our VSI community, and think about what it means to listen, to understand, and to truly be an ally. We want our employees to be able to be their authentic selves at work, and our culture emphasises respect, tolerance, and understanding.

These values and this culture are not just for Pride month, but are central to VSI Group every day.


Why is acceptance important and how can we all work together to create a more accepting society?

Acceptance is the first step to a more inclusive society. The first thing that comes to mind when "acceptance" is said is family acceptance, but that is only one part of it. Acceptance among friends, co-workers, employers, and in many other spheres is crucial to ensure members of the LGBTQIAP+ community are able to feel safe everywhere they exist. We, as queer people, are often in situations that make us feel unsafe once our existence is always questioned. Human beings in general already have many concerns and anxieties daily and when the environment we are in is not inclusive, we have an extra layer of concerns to face. Once we feel accepted, that allows LGBTQIAP+ people to exist more freely, to not worry about whether we are liked or not, or if we are in danger. An accepting environment allows us to express our opinion with no judgment. To me, the key to create a more accepting society is to listen. We, as human beings, have that amazing ability that allows us to get in touch with different opinions, life backgrounds, experiences and endless other possibilities. Once we were given that, we should listen with no intention to answer right away. I mean, listen in order to get in touch with different points of view and make genuine effort to understand that the person in front of you has a completely different background than yours.  

Fernando Guimarães – Dubbing QC


What are some misconceptions about the LGBTQIA+ community that need to be addressed?

As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community myself, I often face all sorts of questions stemming from misconceptions: "Did you choose to like girls because you were hurt by guys?" or "Are you a femme or a butch, and if you're a femme, does that mean you only date butch?" or "Have you thought about going to a therapist?" and so on. But here's the thing: I've been more interested in girls than boys since I was a kid, so being queer isn’t a choice, but innate; we can’t be identified by these labels and we date the one we like, no matter what types they are; and certainly, being queer isn’t a mental issue. These questions didn’t affect me much because I'm confident in who I am. However, for those who are still figuring out their sexual orientation and struggling to understand themselves, these questions can have a negative impact.


Michelle Wang - Production Coordinator


What advice would you give to someone who’s not out yet?

Coming out is such a personal journey and it’s important to only do it when you are ready. For some of us it might have been a joyous and freeing experience met only by positivity, love and encouragement. For others though it’s important to realise that it isn’t always that easy and immediately freeing so be mindful of your own situation and your own vulnerabilities. For most of us we will never regret it and for some of us we may wish we had done it sooner but it’s important to do what is right for you and when it’s right for you. It’s important to remember that it changes nothing, you are still the same person standing in front of them and if it’s met with anything other than love and positivity then it is that individual’s problem and not yours. Remember that coming out is not something you only do once, we have to come out to people throughout our lives, whether it be to new friends, to new employers or when you change your doctor. It’s something you will never stop doing, but hopefully it does become easier.


Ben Gardner - Business Development Manager 

What is an issue facing the community that you would want more people to know about?

That we as a community are not trying to push our agendas on the rest of the world.  We want to be treated as equals not to force others to live the lives we do. Accepting us into other communities and getting to know us will enable people to see that we are just like them. In addition, we as a community also have to understand and accept that stereotypes exist and we can’t waste our energy trying to combat them.


John Soper - Head of HR


What does year-round support look like to you?

Pride Month, to me, is first and foremost a remembrance of the Stonewall Riots, a reminder that there are unfortunately still many people out there who would fight against the very concept of our identity, and an incentive to keep standing up for the right to be who we are.

While rainbows are my favourite colour, there is so much more to Pride than rainbows, and support and allyship means more than breaking out the rainbow flags once a year. Support means speaking up against casual homophobic and transphobic remarks, even if they’re just a joke. Support means educating yourself and others. Support means asking difficult questions and genuinely considering the answers. Support, at work and everywhere else, means creating a place where we feel safe to be who we are, where we don’t have to hide our identity in order to feel accepted.


Berber Wierda - Senior Translator 


Who do you think is responsible for taking action on inclusion issues?

I think everyone has a vital role to play for inclusion. There will always be a way to be more inclusive but figuring out how can be tricky. One of the best ways to help is to take the time to listen and learn about other people’s personal experiences to then have a clearer understanding of what it is like to be in the LGBTQIA+ community and the day-to-day difficulties they can face. Even as someone who is part of this community, I know there is so much more I need to learn and truly understand. I have tried to make strides to help others learn so they can be more inclusive by making a short award-winning LGBT+ documentary, which explains some of the letters, whilst sharing people’s personal experiences.


Jess Eady - Casting Supervisor 


What role does intersectionality play in the community and how can we better address issues related to race, gender identity and other intersecting identities?  

I can’t speak for other POC queer folks, but as a queer Filipino trans man, I feel that it plays an interesting role in my journey of identity. The way I see it, I theoretically have three ways of looking at issues in the world. One through my race and ethnicity as a Filipino American, another through my sexual orientation as a queer person, and another through my gender identity as a trans man.

These three forms of identity allow me to have a wider understanding of how people perceive me, as well as how I should address certain issues. It took a while to fully understand that if I’m addressing issues that are specifically attacking either one of my identities, I shouldn’t look at them individually but as a whole. I can’t just “turn off” a portion of myself that may not have been affected by whatever the issue is, and it’s something that I feel other folks in the community also need to understand. Forcing yourself to only address issues such as racism, homophobia, and transphobia in pieces of your voice and your view isn’t going to help in the long run. To truly give an opinion and a clear understanding of what and how you are being oppressed will hopefully allow us to take a step closer to true equity in this world.


Liam Coballes - Dubbing Producer 

What do you think can be done to address negative stereotypes?

Education is essential for addressing negative stereotypes. An open-minded educational strategy will decrease these stereotypes and help to normalise the LGBTQIA+ community reality. This is a diverse community in which everyone is welcome, making it one of the most heterogenous groups in the world. Children need to know that we are more than masculine lesbians or feminine gays, and that trans people are not transvestites, and vice versa. This knowledge will help them and their environment to accept and integrate LGBTQIA+ community as part of their day-to-day life. Another strategy that would help to address these stereotypes is to change the visibility of LGBTQIA+ people in the media. How many LGBTQIA+ news presenters have you ever seen on TV? It is not usual to see a non-heteronormative presenter in that field. The representation of this community used to be gay presenters of gossip TV shows. Changing this will be essential to normalise that LGBTQIA+ people are more than stereotypes. I wish that someday our society could enjoy a diverse representation in the media.


Irene Alcedo - Project Manager 


How can companies authentically support the community?

One thing companies can do is to approach their own employees that are part of the LGBTQIA+ community and ask them what they need and would like to see, because it’s easy to make misguided assumptions if you’re outside of that community. It’s great that so many companies recognise the community with all kinds of campaigns, but it should go beyond surface level support and rainbow-washing by just slapping a rainbow on something and calling it allyship. Ask yourself: what does my company do to support its LGBTQIA+ employees and the larger community outside of Pride Month?


Tom Steinbusch - Senior Translator

What progress have you seen in your life and at work? 

Things have changed a lot in my lifetime, people are far more open nowadays to differences. There is still a distance to go but hopefully we are in the times where we are seeing society change and be more diverse, maybe we are part of the generation where these divides and prejudices finally disappear. I feel VSI has always been a very open and welcoming place, and supportive of anyone.


Pete Lewis - Group Studio and Systems Support Director 


What can allies do to better support the LGBTQIA+ community beyond Pride month?

Educate yourself about the community and the challenges they face. Know what each letter stands for and be aware that there are many sublabels and that everyone is different. For example, many people still think that the A stands for ally, but it is actually for asexual, aromantic and agender. When someone comes out to you, they (usually) do not want to have to explain the basics.

Call out others when they are being homophobic, transphobic etc. Check your own behaviour as well. Often, people do not even realise their comments or jokes may be offensive.

Never assume someone’s sexuality, gender or pronouns. A person’s looks, behaviour, partners (past and present) don’t define their sexual and/or gender identity.


Anja Stoop - Project Manager 

How can we educate others on the importance of respecting and embracing diversity in all forms? 

We as a people need to understand that everyone is different. No two people are the same. We all have different circumstances of our upbringing, we all have different hobbies and interests, and it’s important to realize that you cannot force anyone into a box based on what YOU perceive they should be. The best education about embracing diversity is to experience diversity first-hand.

Taryn Murray - Sound Supervisor