THE BRITISH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE FOR ITALY
It was a chance meeting one Friday evening in London when I accompanied my husband to a dinner for Italian and British lawyers. I got speaking to a lady called Victoria. She spends her time between Milan and London. I told her about and the work that we do and she was very interested, especially so because a colleague of hers in Milan was putting on a conference entitled ‘Gender and LGBT when Social Responsibility is Driven by Business Objectives. She got in touch with Aaron who heads up the BCCI and he got in touch with me. I thought he would just want to get some information about but no, he wanted me to attend and be on the panel. That wasn’t what I was expecting but I was thrilled to be asked and off I went, just for 24 hours, to say my bit. I attach the link to the conference and you may want to have a peak.
I came on at the end and the moderator, Donatella Cungi asked me to tell the delegates, of which there were about 100, about my children, their coming out and how they have coped, being gay and lesbian, in the workplace in the UK. When I was halfway through my speech I mentioned that Rob and Jimmy had got married last July and that brought forth a round of applause. Italy is still lagging behind us in the UK when it comes to the employment and acceptance of gay people, regardless of their abilities.
After the talks and the Q and A session was over we were invited to have a light lunch which had been prepared by prisoners and was also served by prisoners. There is a prison in the vicinity of Milan where inmates are re-educated and given the opportunity to learn different skills. These prisoners presented us with a delicious risotto with lots of little savoury bits and pieces too and the desserts were three types of mousse. Hopefully these men will move on with their lives once their sentences are completed and find paid work and not reoffend.
One moment particularly will stick in my memory. A person came up to me during the meal and said he/she wanted to tell me something they had never told anybody. The thing they wanted to tell me was that their brother was gay and had not come out and was living a life which was unfulfilled and desperately sad. I was touched by this moment of openness and this person said that they often come to London and would like to get in touch with me if that was possible. I am keeping it gender neutral just in case they read this piece. How wonderful that they felt able to open up like that.
Life never ceases to amaze me. I never thought I would be taken to Milan (all expenses paid!!) to speak with the great and the good about our work.
If you go on the link I hope you enjoy watching and listening (although some of the speakers spoke in Italian, a number spoke in English ……….. me included).
Jackie Briggs-FTL Member