By Robbie Turner, RPS Director of Pharmacy and Member Experience.
I came out as a gay man at 15 and have been out (openly gay) at work ever since. I’ve never knowingly suffered homophobia at work, and I know how lucky that makes me. Too many LGBTQIA+ people’s experience of work is not as positive as mine.
Reflecting on this I realise that, even for people who were not subjected to some of the awful examples I’ve heard about, working life can be exhausting. Although microaggressions can seem trivial to those not on the receiving end, they create a culture where people feel the need to hide who they are and make work unwelcoming. Most people can understand that shouting homophobic language across an office is wrong. Talking about microaggressions seems to be much more challenging, which is why addressing them in a workplace requires conscious and positive action.
Correcting people when they ask about my ‘wife’ or the ‘mother’ of my children always feels a little bit uncomfortable. I know people are not being mean or nasty – far from it, they’re usually being absolutely lovely. But, when it’s on top of the same conversation that morning with the taxi driver (equally lovely), or the offer of two single beds in the hotel room (which still happens). When it’s done in an environment where I have never felt comfortable holding hands with my partner, such as on a shopping trip in Leeds (homophobic attacks have almost trebled in the last five years), you can start to see how simple small things can build and build until you tell the lovely taxi-driver; “no, I’m single… no, no kids,” instead of the truth. Because it seems simpler and easier in the moment. It’s not, though. Denying yourself is horrible.
Life is hard enough for too many people for us not to be building more inclusive and welcoming workplaces where people don’t ever need to deny themselves or their lives.
Take a look at our guide to LGBTQI+ microaggressions and download these posters for your workplace.
We want to encourage voices that express the diversity of lived experiences in the profession as part of our inclusion and diversity work. If you’d like to share your story, contact [email protected] or get involved through our ABCD group.