February is LGBT+ History month here in the UK. As part of our reflections we’re shining a spotlight on some of our colleagues, their journey and what LGBT+ history month means to them. This week it’s Hannah.
Hi I’m Hannah, Academy Training Manager and I’ve been at Bupa for ten years now in a variety of different areas within the contact centre.
So tell me a bit about yourself
When I was younger being LGBT+ wasn’t really talked about as much as it was today and there was little visibility of LBGT+ people in the public eye, despite this though I knew I was different from a very young age.
I’m a very firm believer that you’re born the way you are and for me that meant coming out at thirteen which back then was a challenge, being myself wasn’t as accepted as it is now. I struggled for a few years to understand it all which is why I’m really big on supporting people to understand themselves and our history.
As I grew up I had a few different jobs and studied social work and I was very lucky to secure a placement working for the LGBT+ foundation during University which was eye opening. I worked on the counselling service and met a lot of people through that, people who were struggling to come out or accept themselves which was heart-breaking, and people having to hide who they were. Though challenging at times, I got a lot of my strength from this time, helping people overcome their challenges helped me accept myself in a way.
Why is it important to recognise LGBT+ history month?
It’s all about awareness and sharing understanding, a lot of people are unaware of how difficult it has been for LGBT+ people throughout history. It’s only now during our lifetime that attitudes are changing, and it wasn’t until 1967 that homosexuality for men was decriminalised.
When I first came out my family were worried for me, they thought I would have a difficult life or not a normal one because of society at the time and I was determined to prove them wrong. These are the things we should remember to judge how far we’ve come and why our history is important.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people ask why do we need pride now? It really ignites a fire in me. We need to educate people on our history, how much people before us have fought to just be themselves without any judgement and recognising LGBT+ History month plays an important part in that. I always remind people that whenever you meet someone new, you don’t have to come out. I do, every time, and thought times have changed there’s still that part of me that’s nervous about whether I’ll be accepted.
What’s it like to be LGBT+ at Bupa?
I was 21 when I joined Bupa and for me the biggest thing was being accepted from the start. The environment here is really inclusive and being different isn’t a big deal. I actually met my wife at Bupa and we’ve been together 9 years now, we work in different teams but everyone knows we’re together and asks us about how the other ones doing and treats us no differently. Even when I’ve been nervous about coming out to a new team I’m leading as soon as I’ve done it I realise there was no need to be as everyone’s so welcoming.
One of my most memorable times was the first Pride parade we were involved in, we were all nervous beforehand but when we got onto the streets there were tears all round. We were so proud to be representing Bupa and marching in the parade. Later when the Mural and Bupa cube outside our office were changed to the rainbow colours it was a really emotional moment for me, it was Bupa putting themselves out there to say you’re not only accepted, but welcome. It made me really feel like I mattered.