LGBT+ History Month
We're committed to creating a positive culture right across the business, a culture that embraces, values and celebrates individual differences. Our diversity and inclusion networks work to support our vision, running open forums and initiatives all year round.
This LGBT+ History Month, we hear from some members of our Pride network.
LGBT+ History month originated in 2005 in response to the abolition of section 28. This was a ruling that meant it was no longer illegal to talk about LGBTQ+ issues in a positive way in schools.
Two LV= colleagues share their experience of being part of the LGBT+ community over the years. Hear from Marcus Roche, Quality Assurance Governance Team Leader and Michelle Poczapsky, Graphic Designer.
Marcus’s story in his own words:
“As a young person I’ve always dreamed of getting married. When I started high school in 2005, civil partnerships were legalised. I thought to myself ‘this might be what my future will look like’. I was still at the age where I was figuring out who I was and why I might feel ‘different’ by comparison to the other kids in my class. By the time I left high school in 2010 it was still illegal to get married to a person of the same sex in the UK.
In 2014, the first same sex marriage took place in the UK and a weight (I didn’t even realise I had on my shoulders) was lifted. I thought to myself ‘I can get married someday’.
Fast forward three years and I met my future husband to be. Preparing for my wedding was a positive experience and not as stressful as I thought it would be. However, there are some key experiences that stood out during the wedding process that I wish went differently:
The continuous assumption that a wedding will be for a ‘Mr and Mrs’. This happened at my wedding rehearsal, on my stag do and even on my wedding day. The officiant of the service welcomed my husband and me to our wedding party with ‘please stand for the bride and groom…I mean groom and groom.’ It was completely accidental, but still not what you want to hear on the biggest day of your life.
Even so, my wedding day was the best day of my life. I was surrounded by love, happiness and family and these are the memories I’ll cherish in years to come.
If I could wish for one change based on my own wedding experience, it’d be to increase the awareness of the impact unconscious bias can have on other people. Removing the assumption that a marriage is for Mr and Mrs would have made my wedding day an even better experience. We’ve come a long way as a society, but we still have a long way to go.”
Michelle’s story in her own words:
“Section 28 was in place for almost all of my school years. Enacted on 24 May 1988, the amendment stated that a local authority ‘shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality’ or ’promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship’.
Growing up as a bisexual person, this made life confusing. I didn't know other bisexual people even existed and so I assumed I must be some anomaly. I felt something was wrong with me and it was very isolating at times.
I certainly wouldn't have wanted to talk to anyone about it – I had seen the possible consequences. A boy at our school was badly bullied for being gay and in those days the word was used as an insult. To be gay was seen as shameful and embarrassing and I remember that boy being subjected to slurs and physical attacks because of it.
It was even done in front of teachers, who did nothing to stop it, which I now realise was due to Section 28. They were worried they could lose their jobs if they spoke out.
All I saw at the time though was adults ignoring the homophobic attacks (and in my mind, therefore condoning them). This cemented in my head the idea that being gay was 'wrong' and that I had to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself.
This could be incredibly lonely and really affected my self-esteem – it meant I could never be my true-self. Even around close friends I only hinted at it, because I didn't fully understand it myself. I liked boys too, so I couldn't be 'gay' and I had no other reference points until much later. I also now realise what a huge impact this had on my mental health (another thing no one spoke about back then!).
To have no discussion around these things effectively erases people. Schools back then were places of compulsory heterosexuality. There was no protection from bullying for LGBTQIA+ people and no way for them to be their authentic selves. Many people bottled up those feelings and hid a whole part of themselves, and that did a lot of damage to a whole generation of people.
I'm so happy to hear that this is much less of a problem now in schools, or for young LGBTQIA+ people in general. It genuinely makes my heart sing when I hear stories from friends, family or colleagues about how their children are able to be openly gay and to talk about that at school. I have friends with gay children, and transgender children too, and I love that they are free to be themselves and to live their lives fully.”
Thank you Marcus and Michelle for sharing your stories.
More about our Pride network
“Working for LV=, I feel genuinely able to be myself and it’s nice to know my company not only supports that but encourages it.”
We talked to Nicki Illman, LGBTQIA+ Pride Network Chair, during Pride Month 2022. Read the blog and learn more about what the network gets up to.