Pride Month is a significant event for many, dedicated to recognising the impact that LGBTQ+ individuals have in our wider community. However, it is also an opportunity for us to address the obstacles the community continues to face in life, but also in death. For example, in life, members of the community fight tirelessly every day to ensure they can identify in whichever way reflects their truest selves. However, in death, barriers still remain. Here, Lee Pedley, General Manager of family-owned funeral firm Neville Funerals, which serves Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, explains what Pride means to the business and how the industry can better celebrate life, regardless of sexual orientation, gender and personal identity.
Pride Month is a joyful event for us, one where we can take some time to celebrate individuality and recognise the diverse make up of our community. However, a month is not enough and there shouldn’t be an expiry date on conversations around inclusivity. This is particularly true for us in the funeral industry who must represent everyone, celebrating an individual’s life in exactly the way they wish to be remembered.
Sadly two reports, published in 2014 and 2018, estimated that one in four LGBTQ+ adults expected to face prejudice relating to their identity when planning a funeral. In the same report, two in five feared the reaction they would get from religious officiates, while one in five worried about discrimination from family members.
It’s true that tradition does play an important role in many funerals, adding another layer of influence and choice to the event. However, there is no ‘one size fits all’ rule when it comes to this choice. Funerals are opportunities to celebrate someone’s life and we love to play a role in organising personalised funerals where families can embrace their loved ones wishes and celebrate their unique identities.
Progress is being made and it’s important that the funeral industry recognises the role they can play in celebrating the lives of those who wish to be remembered in a certain way. Better information from the industry on funeral choices, more widely disseminated amongst LGBTQ+ communities, would help. Furthermore, the industry has its own LGBTQ+ staff to support families within the community. NAFD Pride, an Equality and Diversity Initiative, is in place for promoting inclusivity within the industry and to provide a platform to all members to share their experiences.
As an industry, we should be more aware of using inclusive language, be able to advise about the legal position of a change of name, how to register a death with a used rather than given name, understanding that some may have Gender Recognition Certificates. We must also ensure the privacy of the deceased is maintained, protecting them from discrimination from friends or family, who may not know details about their sexual identity.
What we do is always about everybody, every individual – their rights to have the funeral that respects and reflects their life, and their choices.