Love with no labels — why Pride is important to me

Throughout my adult life I had always been in a heterosexual relationship. I never had to declare who I slept with at work, I had never experienced homophobia and neither had I been told I should be sent for conversion therapy to change how I feel. My life, in relation to my sexuality, had been easy and dare I say it privileged. I have always had a wide circle of friends, many of whom are gay, and have often heard their stories of coming out, and the bullying and homophobia that they have experienced. To me, I saw myself as an ally; accepting, supporting and encouraging, trying to make the world better in my own small way for the LGBTQ+ community.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, the whole world was thrown into chaos and my life was pretty challenging. I was redeployed to the Nightingale Training and Education Centre, leading on Organisational Development and volunteer deployment. I had an amazing team, built great friendships in very difficult circumstances and grew as a person.

It was at Nightingale that I met my partner — one of the most incredible human beings I have ever encountered — volunteering at the centre while their father was critically ill in Intensive Care with Covid. This person, my partner, is a woman.

For me, it’s very different being in a same sex relationship. Not in terms or feelings, but people’s perception of me, and how I am now viewed as ‘gay’. The questioning, the querying and the judgement doesn’t just come from strangers, but also from friends and family, and from my local community. I am looked at now as being different. I have been told I am very straight for a gay person (who knew that there was a look!). I have been asked how did you know you were gay? Have you just hidden it all this time? Do you miss being with a man? Are you going through a phase? What are you — bisexual, lesbian, pansexual etc?

For me, I don’t need to label my love. I’m happy and I’m in a supportive, caring relationship, working with my partner to bring up my daughter with the father of my child.

Pride Month is the promotion of the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as a social group. Pride, as opposed to shame and social stigma, shows that the world is becoming slowly more inclusive. But there is still more work to be done. This pride, give thought to those that have faced challenges, hate and isolation because they just wanted to love who they love.

Elaine Turner (She/Her) Senior Workforce Programme Manager for NHS England — London region

For more information on how to be an effective ally to people in the LGBTQ+ community, visit Imperial College London’s website.

From mental wellbeing support to general citizen advice, Stonewall UK has shared a list organisations that are doing great work to support the LGBTQ+ community in the UK — find out more here.

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