BLOG: Challenging Stereotype Assumptions


Being in the closet

Like many other queer people growing up in the 80s and 90s, I remained in the ‘closet’ due to my fear of what people would think. I remember my parents having a life plan for me – that I would go to university, get a great job, marry a successful man and have children. My fear of disappointing them held me back from being open about who I really was and how I felt. I even remember one of my friends being taken to the GP for an assessment, because she had told her mother she thought she may be gay!

Coming out

I finally made the decision to tell my family I was a lesbian when I was 23 years old – up until that point, only a small group of my closest friends had known. Initially, my family were supportive to an extent. However, I was met with the comment “but you don’t look gay”. At that moment in time, I wasn’t sure how to handle that comment. But did think about it a lot over the weeks, after asking myself ‘So what should I look like?’, ‘Do I have to change my whole image so people will accept me?’. I ended up experimenting with different images and styles, but never felt truly comfortable, which made me feel like an outcast.

Challenging those assumptions

Moving through life in various roles and situations, I have been faced with the same comment on multiple occasions. Historically, I would have never challenged those comments. But it wasn’t until around eight years ago, when my line manager overheard someone saying it to me and asked me if I had been offended. It wasn’t actually until this point where I thought ‘Yes! This is offensive to me, I shouldn’t be judged or have assumptions made about me because of my appearance!’. By challenging these assumptions, I finally found I was becoming more confident in myself and happy with who I was.

Pride, for me, is celebrating and being confident with who you are and challenging misconceptions.

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