Celebrating Pride Live’s Stonewall Day campaign

Richard Branson smiling, waving his hat and arms in the air at a Virgin Atlantic Pride event in New York
Image from Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 25 June 2020

People should be able to be themselves and love whoever they want to love without fear. I’d love to see a world where all people are thriving, because of who they are, not in spite of it.

I am thrilled to be one of this year’s ambassadors for Pride Live’s Stonewall Day campaign to raise awareness and support for the Stonewall legacy and the continuing fight for LGBTQ+ equality. I'm looking forward to talking about how I strongly believe in making our businesses as inclusive and welcoming as possible. LGBT+ discrimination is not just bad from a human rights perspective, it’s also bad for business. Open and inclusive societies are more competitive, creative and innovative.

Image from Virgin Voyages
Image from Virgin Voyages

While celebrating Pride gives us great focus, I’m a firm believer that business can play a really positive role in supporting the LGBTQ+ community all year round and I’ve been a staunch supporter of LGBTQ+ rights for decades. When I was a teenager, I set up Student Magazine and we had many people write to us to raise the issue. It was part of the reason I set up the Student Advisory Centre, a helpline where young callers with problems could retain their anonymity and get help from the right people. I realised that many young gay people were being ostracised and wanted to meet other gay people and feel part of a community. This led me on to buying Heaven, Europe’s biggest gay nightclub, in London in 1981. Heaven was (and is) a special place for the gay community in London – it was somewhere they could openly be themselves and meet other like-minded people.

We’ve gone on to sponsor Pride festivals, host international panels, helped launch Open for Business, a business-led coalitions to make the economic case for LGBTQ+ inclusion, and used our voice to support to the abolition of anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

Image by Clare Kelly
Image by Clare Kelly

Last year Virgin Atlantic made history with the world’s first ever Pride flight, marking the 50 year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.

Happy Pride season all our LGBTQ+ friends and family. Let’s all take a moment to remember that we still have a long way to go until LGBTQ+ rights are championed around the world. We must all come together to keep fighting for equality around the world, and business must play a role in this fight.