The man who joined dots during Pride.

Rainbow glitter

Only a few days into joining Coin Street as the new Communications and Media Manager, we entered Pride Month. As an out and proud gay man of four decades, there was a little trepidation about being the new boy in an organisation.

No sooner had I opened my first emails, did I see an enquiry from one of our commercial residents; Harvey Nichols. Coincidently in 1989 I worked in Christmas gifts and ladies’ coats (not literally) at Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge. What a small world I thought, a couple of dots presented themselves.

Before coming to Coin Street, I worked for National AIDS Trust organising a Candlelight vigil on 1 December (World AIDS Day) at Gabriel’s Wharf. Another dot to join up.

Years later I returned to Coin Street with the mental health charity Mind and produced the first Time to Change Village at Riverside Walk. Those dots just keep on coming.  Now seeing the email from Harvey Nichols’ OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar and Brasserie, I felt I’d come full circle.

Our commercial tenant at the top of OXO Tower Wharf is supporting the LGBTQ+ community serving a Stonewall Gin Cocktail throughout June. They are also producing two hampers containing a selection of prestige and quality products. Proceeds from the sale of both sets will be donated to Stonewall Housing Association. For me this is an emotive dot from my past that really moved me.

In 1990 Stonewall Housing supported my partner and I when we were being evicted for being gay. As a gay couple, we had lived in a one-bedroom flat happily together for over three years.

Today, few realise in those bad old days of Clause 28, with other legally sanctioned discrimination, there was no protection in law for LGBTQ+ people regarding access to housing, employment, and services. So, the email touched a chord, reminding me that Stonewall Housing provided advice, support and helped my partner and I get rehoused in a one bedroomed flat provided by The Peabody Trust as they had an equal opportunities policy to support marginalised people with housing.

Stonewall Housing Association was founded in 1983 and do incredible and inspiring work within the LGBTQ+ community from providing supported housing to young homeless people in delivering mental health advocacy services, supporting those fleeing from domestic abuse as well as supporting those in need of help, advice, and a hand in getting back to work, interview preparation and strategy.

Keith Winestein, Communications and Media Manager (He/Him)