June 26, 2020
Growing up on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, Ruben Galas developed a passion for aviation. After completing a double Masters’ degree in Air Transport Management and Aeronautical Engineering, he joined Virgin Atlantic in 2016 as part of our cargo team. He is now a Consultant - Corporate Dealing, where he is responsible for the analysis and implementation of Global Corporate Sales programs. Here Ruben talks about Pride, its place in Virgin Atlantic and why it is so important.
Pride month is a time for celebration, reflection and recognition, when the LGBTQ+ community unite under the rainbow banner of their chosen Pride Flag. This year, Virgin Atlantic – the company I work for – will be flying the Progress flag, which was designed in 2018 to be a more inclusive symbol of the LGBTQ+ community. It builds on the traditional Pride Flag by adding the colours of marginalised POC (People of Colour) and of the trans community. It’s a reflection of progression and inclusion. I’m proud that Virgin Atlantic recognises this is needed, now more than ever.
When George Floyd was tragically killed by police in the US, it sparked a fire for so many people across the world. Society realised it was time to stand up against prejudice, to demand the end of marginalisation and to strive for positive change, together. It’s been emboldening to see how much can be achieved by people uniting and using a collective voice to call for justice and equality. As French politician C. Taubira wrote, when the fights of minorities for equality succeed, it usually ends up improving the living conditions, rights and freedoms of all.
I consider myself lucky and proud to work for a company that does not tolerate prejudice of any kind. A company that speaks up in the face of injustice and inequality. We stand for inclusion regardless of gender, race, or sexuality. We use the power of our brand and the incredible people who work for Virgin Atlantic to drive positive change. The update to this year’s Pride flag is a small but significant part of this. The addition of a new set of flying icons to our brand new fleet of A350 aircraft last year was another great example of how inclusive representation matters to both our customers and to the people of Virgin Atlantic.
For 36 years, Virgin Atlantic has proudly advocated for the LGBTQ+ community. We’ve driven real change in the Caribbean by working with local governments, tourist bodies and hoteliers to create a safer and equal experience for all LGBTQ+ customers. I was glad to see that for the first time, a same sex couple featured on a Virgin Atlantic advertising campaign in India after the country decriminalised homosexuality in 2018. I will never forget tracking Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural Pride Flight all the way to New York last year, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion. There are so many reasons that our people at Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays wear our badges and wings with honour.
This year, Virgin Atlantic’s Pride celebrations will look a little different than planned. This was to be the first of a three-year headline sponsorship of Manchester Pride and we were so looking forward to flying the flag at our home in the North. Usually at this time of year, my colleagues and I can usually be found having fun on top of a Virgin Atlantic float in the Brighton Pride parade, or marching alongside our friends at Delta at London Pride. I will miss it this year but we all understand that in the air and on the ground, safety always comes first.
Until things get back to normal – whatever normal looks like – our Pride flag is a timely reminder that the road to lasting change is a long one. We must continue to strive together to be an inclusive, respectful workplace where everyone is free to be themselves and has equal opportunity for career progression.
“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their colour.”