I’m a white, privileged female, I had no qualms about ‘coming out’ to my network, and I wasn’t nervous about telling my family, which in my case makes me very lucky.
I had always, and will always, be a free spirit so it wasn’t a surprise to anyone close to me. Perhaps an eye roll was the most shocked reaction I got. However, work was always a bit tricker. Recruitment and sales is a male dominated industry. I’m sure you can imagine the types of sexist, homophobic jokes I’ve heard as I sat in office full of men as a timid (pretending to be straight) 18 year old.
Working with ‘Lads’ was never my strong point … I didn’t like beer, or football, and I didn’t look at Women the way that some of them did. Overall, it was quite an intimidating, traumatic experience. Eventually word got round that I did identify as a Lesbian, and was living with my partner at the time in a flat we had rented in East London. I was embarrassed when they found out and I can’t promise you that the jokes completely stopped, but what it did do was make the Men (who I will leave anonymous) feel uncomfortable whenever they said something homophobic.
Initially that made me feel uncomfortable and I felt like they couldn’t have the usual sort of ‘banter’ that they were having before. I felt guilty. Although as the months bled away from that initial shame, I started seeing it as a good thing. I’m glad that banter stopped because it was never banter in the first place. It was disrespectful. Those types of conversations were never appropriate.
Since then I’ve hopped around from different companies where myself and my sexuality have been whole heartedly accepted and even celebrated. Here I am at Bamboo Crowd, running LGBTQ+ events, supporting minority recruitment and promoting LGBTQ+ history month. Someone old and wise once said to me ‘you won’t ever get a job that makes you happy if can’t be yourself at work’. How I identify does not affect how hard I work, but what it does do, is educate people I work with and for that, I am grateful to be part of this ever progressing and accepting movement with the LGBTQ+ community.