My coming out story, by Jane Steed
Updated: Feb 26
As you've probably seen, we're supporting the House of Pride and Royal Mail's #ConnectingTheLetters campaign in recognition of LGBT History Month. We shared our open letter to the community, and one of the amazing people we shouted out was the lovely Jane Steed. Jane and I used to work together at Capgemini, and part of the work we did together was through the LGBT+ employee network, running sessions on ally-ship. Jane pointed out to me at the end of one of these sessions that I didn't need a badge to be an ally, I was already doing it. I doubt very much that she remembers this conversation, but it had a big impact on me, and I frequently quote Jane now when we're talking ally-ship with our clients.
Jane has written about her own experience of coming out, and has very kindly let us share her story here....
"I am a lesbian. I realised this, quite late in life, which is not unusual amongst women who love women. I was 32 years old. I had never considered that I might be a lesbian before, which might seem strange by 32, but in 2003 life was not the same. There was no gay marriage, or civil partnership, and though ones’ sexual orientation was a protected characteristic by law, it was still far from ‘every day’. Ellen DeGeneres was one of a handful of publicly visible lesbians, and when she came out in 1997 she lost her job and struggled to get employment for about 6 years.
My coming out did not have a lot of personal searching and angst for self-acceptance. I simply fell in love with a woman. The issue that had to be addressed was that I was also married to a man and pregnant with our first child. The gay part of my tale was the least shocking part.
The conversations I had to have were with my husband, with my older son, with his father, with my father, with my mother, with my friends. The responses were split along two lines: “well I never expected that, but ok” and “you’re pregnant, you can’t make any decisions… this is just your hormones… you’re like my horses they go ‘like this’ when they’re pregnant… just put it on the back burner” The former included my father, who as a factual, reserved but ultimately fair man, was quietly supportive of both me and my estranged husband, my mother the latter.
I loved my husband, and, having been with him 7 years, wanted to marry him and have a child with him, but falling in love with a woman was different. Everyone deserves to be with someone they are in love with. I realised this when I fell in love with a woman. I did not and could not love my husband the same way.
When I realised this, I knew I had to leave my husband. Before I fell in love with a woman, I thought the way that people referred to love, in films, in songs, was just that those other people expressed themselves differently. Now I can feel that difference. There is no convenient time to come out as queer.
I identify as a lesbian despite having relationships with men in the past. The reason I identify that way, and not as bisexual or as pansexual, is that, now I have had relationships with women, I can’t see myself ever having a relationship with a man again. I have never felt the same way in relationships with men as I do in relationships with women. This is not the definition this is my definition.
I didn’t realise how happy I could be... the more visibility and conversations we have about how we all feel, will mean that we are all happier for it.
I am hoping that the way that the global environment, and the UK environment, has progressed over the last 17 years means that no one has to live ‘half a life’ any more. I was not unhappy before. But I didn’t realise how happy I could be and the more visibility and conversations we have about how we all feel, which includes separating out the acronyms to include all of the LGBTQIA+ strands so that everyone can start to understand how other people feel, and that no one feels like their experience is unique and that they are alone, will mean that we are all happier for it."
We want to thank the amazing Jane for sharing her beautiful story with us. If you want to hear more about our workshops on the topics of ally-ship and inclusion, or if you want to get in touch for further support on your organisation's approach to inclusivity, please do get in touch.
At A New Normal, we support our clients to build and sustain truly diverse and inclusive organisations, through culture change programmes, education, audit and recruitment. Our team of expert Diversity & Inclusion Consultants can provide; Diversity & Inclusion Training, Unconscious Bias Training, Inclusive Recruitment and Diverse Recruitment support.
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