23 September 2019 - Article
A colleague recently told me I should consider writing My Pride Story in honour of Pride month this year. My instinctive response to him was “My Pride Story would be positively boring in comparison to some of the stories I have read”. I joked with some friends as to how short My Pride Story would be “I came out in my early 20s to a very supportive group of friends and family. The end.” Their belief that I had something more to contribute was overwhelmingly more optimistic than mine.
My home friends thought an origin story was worthy of some ink, providing some insight as to what it was like growing up as a gay, mixed race boy in an almost entirely white, heterosexual town. I reminded them Harrogate has been voted the happiest place to live three years running… it didn’t sound like the most compelling origin story. Others suggested writing something on the first 22 years of my life (which included my training contract years) where I artfully dodged answering any questions relating to sexuality… I brushed this one off on the basis I just felt more comfortable coming out slightly later in life… it didn’t have the depth of emotion the readers were looking for.
My blunt friends were quick to agree that My Pride Story may be harder to write given that up until my mid 20s my social network was almost entirely straight and all my LGBT+ role models were straight female celebrities. There was a temptation at this point to write an epic dissertation on the Rise and Rise of Adele as a gay icon…but I felt this was not the perspective they were suggesting I write from.
What I eventually realised when trying to find My Pride Story is that I have avoided sharing a lot of my experiences with others out of the misguided belief they needed to depict a story of overcoming adversity or bear the hallmarks of a Hollywood biopic. When discussing this with other colleagues they too seemed quick to downplay their experiences and queried if their stories would make a difference to the LGBT+ community.
For most of us, just seeing other LGBT+ staff members in the workplace has a significant impact. I gain reassurance from having visibility of those who have already walked the path I am on, particularly when they hold senior positions in the firm. I have a sense of pride working with senior members of the firm who are openly gay and strong straight allies. It gives me confidence to be completely open in the workplace.
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