National Coming Out Day was founded in 1988 and is celebrated every year on 11 October. The day is an opportunity for LGBTQ+ people to be out and proud, celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, and raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues to colleagues, family and friends.
There is no question that homophobia, transphobia, and ignorance builds on silence so it is time to end that silence. It’s crucial that we continue to fight stigma and create a culture where people can be their authentic selves, both at home and in the workplace.
Everyone’s coming out story is different and unique, but all of these experiences make us and our community who we are today.
Stonewall report that only half of lesbian, gay, bi people (46 per cent) and trans people (47 per cent) feel able to be open about who they are to their whole family. While more than a third of LGBT staff (35 per cent) have hidden their identity at work. Concerns about personal safety and fears about discrimination can all play a part in someone’s decision to come out.
When we talk about and share what coming out was like for us, we can offer much needed strength and support to those who may be struggling with similar fears and anxiety we once faced.
To celebrate this day in NELFT, some of our colleagues have shared their coming out stories. Stephanie Dawe, chief nurse and executive director of integrated services (Essex), pictured above, shared her experience, she said: "My story was quite a revelation for me as whilst I had never hidden my sexuality I had also never made any public statements. It took place during an Equality & Diversity conference probably some 4-5 years ago. I was asked to speak at the conference and so determined to pick on a variety of life experiences where I felt discriminated against on the basis of age and gender. In the back of my mind I was mulling over whether I also brought sexuality into my delivery. During the presentation it remained in the back of my mind until I made a decision there and then, and declared my personal circumstances to over 150 people!… the number of positive messages I received was quite humbling."
To read more coming out experiences, click on the names below.
The NELFT 'Coming out at work' guide can be accessed here.