What an incredible day last Friday was. I may not be American by birth but that didn’t stop the overwhelming emotion at hearing the United States Supreme Court’s decision to legalise marriage for all citizens, no matter sexual preference, in all 50 states. Knowing how much it meant to – and would change the lives for the better – my dear LGBT friends in America, but all those who have fought so hard for equality both in the past and present in the USA and beyond, made it all the more emotional. Two of those people are my friends, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita, who founded bow tie company Tie The Knot to advocate for the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans throughout the United States & beyond.
Tie The Knot releases seasonal collections, each inspired by Justin and Jesse’s favourite art, fashion, things they see on the street, or even the things in their living room. Proceeds from the sale of the bow ties go to various organisations that are fighting on the front line for the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans every single day, as well as to funding their international public education campaign to help continue to move the increase in support of LGBT equality. In support of their work, I wore Jesse’s Belmont bow tie from his Tie The Knot x The Tie Bar while on a business trip to Venice, Italy in April.While last Friday’s passing of marriage equality for all was a sign of huge progress, there’s still a long road ahead to achieve true equal rights for LGBT citizens in America, and around the world. Very sadly, in some states in America it’s legal to refuse to serve someone in a shop or restaurant because believe them to be LGBT, or even fire them from their job because of their sexuality. Tie The Knot will continue to help raise funds to raise LGBT awareness and fight for the civil rights of LGBT citizens.Sometimes it can be easy to think that those living in developed, western countries are safe no matter their sexual preference. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. Even in the UK – a country widely recognised for it’s LGBT acceptance – there are still pockets of society with a violent hatred towards LGBT citizens. Just last weekend, my heartmate and I received aggressive and verbal homophobic abuse from a man on the underground in London. We then sat down in a different carriage opposite a married straight couple who proceeded to look at us like sh*t, tut in disgust then get up and move seats. This was all shortly after hundreds and hundreds of people unfollowed me on Instagram because I posted a picture of my husband and I to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary.Sadly, this isn’t the first time such an instance has happened and because of it we rarely show one another affection in public due to concerns of attracting these sort of things. Last weekend’s events left us both feeling shaken up and sad at how we feel somewhat forced to live our lives in a suppressed manner. It’s uncountable the number of times I have longed to reach out and hold my heart mate’s hand while walking down the street, or even just give him an affectionate kiss on the head as I get up the leave the dinner table at a family dinner or in a restaurant, but have refrained for fear of the reaction or making others feel uncomfortable. There’s also the awkward, “Are you sure want a double bed room?!” that we are asked with a note of shock or disdain sometimes when checking into hotels, or the grilling we have had at airports because we share the same surname by marriage in countries where ‘gay’ marriage isn’t legal. We know we are fortunate compared to those suffering much graver circumstances at home and abroad but it’s true: there’s a long, long road ahead for LGBT equality and I’m so proud of my friends at Tie The Knot for their work towards this incredibly important cause.I know that I personally need to do more for the cause. I shouldn’t be suppressing how I live my life with my husband, especially in public, but I know I need to build confidence to do this. It will take time but I am determined not to live in fear for openly loving the most incredibly kind, generous and inspiring man I’ve ever known. Here’s to all of us taking positive steps for a more equal future for all.