People often ask me if I’m proud to be gay. My usual response is I’m proud to be Scottish. Being gay wasn’t something I sought after and achieved, like running a 10K. It’s just who I am. My hair is brown, I’m kind of tall. I don’t ever think I’m proud of that. So why would I be proud to be gay? But I know I’m proud to be Scottish.
Scotland is kind of the minority. We’re a very wee country, but a very strong country. Very ambitious, very beautiful and very inclusive. The political leaders from Labour and Conservative are both openly gay women, our Green leader is openly bi-sexual and our First Minister witnessed the first gay marriage in Scotland, which I was lucky to attend. I’m so proud that my very wee home town of Dunblane had 3 Olympians! Because we are very wee, most people have shared values…we always hope we’ll be good at football (and Rugby!) and know most things can be solved in the pub.
I am proud to be part of the LGBTQ community though. We are a minority. If by me being part of it, I can help make things easier for the next generation (people keep telling me how old I am!), then that makes me happy.
People also often ask me why labels are important. Surely that creates more differences, can’t we all just be ourselves and who really cares? And at O2, we always lead where others follow. That’s who we are and very proud of it too.
For a long time I was the only gay woman on the network. And I hated labels. Refused to out myself purely on principle. No-one else has to tell over 4,000 people personal things in an open forum, why should I? Being gay is the least interesting thing about me. (although I’ve no idea what the most interesting thing is!)
And then I read a stat that shocked me. Made me wonder why I was the only gay woman on the network. 43% of LGBTQ people don’t feel comfortable at work being themselves. I have never ever been picked on or made to feel bad about who I am at work. But it seems I’m lucky.
There’s a lot more I can offer to the LGTBQ network, but at least I’m present. Here and queer as they say! If it even helps one person then I’m happy. And I produced the T-Shirts for Pride, so practical help at least!
By Nicola Banks