June 2022: Anthony Colegrave is a partner in the derivatives and structured finance group in the Capital Markets Practice in London. He tells us about his #MyPrideStory and reflects on the changes he has seen in his career in South Africa and the UK.
Being out at work takes away the social pressure
Being upfront about my relationship takes away any potential awkwardness or potential misunderstandings. When others see my wedding ring, their first thought is usually 'wife' not 'husband.' I'm happy to correct them, without making it a big deal. Their reaction is from years of socialisation, and it's changing all the time.
"Don't ask, don't tell" was the norm in my early career
As a young lawyer, I would say that being openly LGBT+ was definitely seen as being an outlier. We've moved on from that sort of tacit acceptance to the idea of allyship and full equality.
South Africa was notably forward-thinking...
The 1996 South African constitution made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and it was one of the first countries to allow gay marriage. So I started my career in this surprisingly liberal environment, in a new country with a lot of optimism and open-mindedness.
... yet my home country still discriminates against LGBT+ people
When I go back to my family in Zimbabwe, it's completely different to across the border in South Africa. Same-sex relationships are illegal there, although of course there are plenty of LGBT+ people there, as there are in every country.
Spectrum is a great network to join
It's a network for everyone, LGBT+ or not. I joined White & Case earlier this year and being part of Spectrum has been a great way to get to know people across the Firm. I'm particularly looking forward to the Pride brunch in London this year.
I appreciate those who came before me
As a gay man, I appreciate the older generation who fought for equal rights and for acceptance. I think that for the trans people of tomorrow, it's trans people today who are blazing a trail.
You have to remind yourself that what's normal now wasn't always
I remember how controversial the 90's / 00's sitcom "Will & Grace" was when it first aired, because it had a gay characters and depicted the gay culture. That was a really big deal then. When you live, as we do now, in a world where gay culture is much more mainstream, you need to remember that it really wasn't long ago that it wasn't like that.
I've experienced some memorable moments at Pride
Pride is about a sense of joy and oneness. So many people come together to express themselves and be together. There's such a sense of unity. But I also remember other moments, like the religious far-right protesters telling us that we'd go to hell.
Being a role model means having an open door
I recognise that I had a privileged upbringing and my family–and my husband's too–were fine when I came out to them. That's not the case for many people. So I definitely feel a responsibility to the next generation to be someone to talk to. My door is always open.