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Royal Navy and Royal Marines show their LGBT+ pride in London

Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines marched to show their support for the LGBT+ community at Pride in London today – marking the first time the Royal Marines have officially taken part.

The sailors and marines were cheered on by hundreds of thousands of spectators as they marched proudly through the streets of central London, led by the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines from HMS Collingwood.

This year marks 10 years since all three of the UK’s armed forces have taken part in London’s Pride celebrations, with the Naval Service having taken part since 2006.

Petty Officer Sam Quinn, 23, is a Royal Navy air engineering technician based at HMS Sultan in Gosport. He said: “The support we had from the public today was electric. It makes you feel so proud to be able to serve in the forces in a country where it is allowed and where the people are so appreciative. 

"I am proud to be able to serve openly in the Royal Navy because we believe being yourself is important. I hope our taking part sends a message to other people that it’s okay to join the armed forces or to come out.”

 
It really is a great feeling to know you considered the same as everyone else, but also that your talents are appreciated.”

Petty Officer Samantha Kimberley-Hauff

The sailors and Royal Marines marched through central London before heading along Whitehall to salute the fallen at the Cenotaph in poignant recognition of the many LGBT+ people who have served Britain throughout history.

Marine Mike Johnson, 32, from Lincolnshire, is one of the Royal Marines who took part at Pride in London for the first time. He said: “I haven’t marched before because, like most Royal Marines, I’ve been busy deployed on operations when Pride takes place.

“I’ve done a tour of Afghanistan, and been deployed on multiple exercises. I know a few other marines who would like to join Pride this weekend who won’t be able to because they are deployed away and working hard.

“I think it’s really important that LGBT+ people from the armed forces including myself attend events like this. I’m proud to work for an organisation which doesn’t treat me any differently and I want to show others that I can serve my country and be myself.”

The Royal Navy was the first defence organisation to join Stonewall as a Diversity Champion in 2005 and has continued to develop ties with its LGBT+ workforce through Compass, the Royal Navy’s LGBT+ staff network.

Petty Officer Samantha Kimberley-Hauff, 38, who is based at Navy Command Headquarters in Portsmouth, also marched. She said: “My sexuality has never been a barrier to joining or my career progression. Instead I have found for the first time I can be totally open about what I am and accepted for who I am.

“It really is a great feeling to know you considered the same as everyone else, but also that your talents are appreciated.”

​The naval contingent at Pride this year will be formed of members of Compass – the Navy’s sexual orientation and gender identity network which supports all those serving including reserves, civilians, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and all fighting arms of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. They were joined by colleagues from the British Army and Royal Air Force.

Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Mike Hill, one of the organisers of the Royal Navy’s involvement in Pride, said: “It has been almost 20 years since the ban on LGBT+ people serving in the military was lifted, but many people outside of the armed forces still think it’s an exclusively macho organisation.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth. The Royal Navy and Royal Marines recognise there is strength in diversity, and the modern armed forces are welcoming of people from all backgrounds. We welcome the best talent in our ranks from all sexual orientations and gender identities.”

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