As part of the GP Care Group's ongoing work for better inclusion and understanding of ‘differences’ within the organisation, and by coincidence, in recognition that it is Pride month (June), our Executive Director for Clinical Strategy and Governance, Helen Childs has penned a personal blog about her own personal journey as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
“I have been meaning to put pen to paper for some time now – the opportunity for colleagues to participate in ‘Unconscious Bias’ training has spurred me on to consider sharing my own personal journey as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Before the pandemic hit the Government released the results of a survey of more than 1,000 LGBTQ+ people. It made for sad reading: 74 percent said they had to hide their sexual orientation and more than three-quarters said they felt uncomfortable being their true self in public, unable to hold the hands of their same-sex partners due to fear.
In my previous role I had the privilege of attending the Stonewall Leadership Programme. There I met and bore witness to some incredible individuals from all walks of life, who also happen to identify as LGBTQ+. As part of the programme we all took part in action learning sets where we shared our personal journeys as part of this diverse community. Some stories were heart wrenching. A young man, Tim, broke down when he shared the way he had, once again, had to ‘edit’ what he did after a really special weekend in his life. He didn’t feel safe to say they had been away to Paris, and more importantly, with his boyfriend. He reached breaking point and decided he had to act and, despite risk, he came out at work and joined the programme. He had no role models to aspire to be like. Having met ‘John’ a fellow attendee, at the session, he now does!
On a personal note, I have, over the years, been a victim of hate crime. Fortunately, never physical abuse but verbally abused on a number of occasions. I lived next to someone who took offence to me and my partner and he made our lives hell for quite a period of time. I was fearful about going home on a daily basis. That’s why I prefer not to use the term lesbian, as it brings back memories of times I would wish to forget.
Our son was bullied at school for being gay and took the opportunity at college to reinvent himself. He has grown in confidence and is enjoying life to the full however, he was recently called a ‘poofter’ at work by a direct report; it really threw him. He didn’t know what to do, he didn’t like it and it rocked his world making him feel unsafe for the first time since school. We made it clear to him this was ‘hate crime’ and his employers needed to act. I believe the individual no longer works for the firm. I would like to say, overall, attitudes are improving. I have been able to get married (the happiest day of my life) and I now hold hands with my wife in public. We sometimes have to think about it, conscious that some people may not be comfortable or approve, and we sneak other signs of affection when we can. So, we are married but not always able to act married.
I would really encourage all colleagues in the GP Care Group to participate in the ‘Unconscious Bias’ training. I know I have lived experience as a gay woman but really want to understand others’ lived experience and appreciate my own unconscious bias in a positive way. Together we can make a huge difference for our diverse community and our workforce.”