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Coming out, fitting in and celebrating Pride 2020

We caught up with Alan, Communication and Engagement Executive at LV= GI Birmingham, to hear all about his experience of working here as an openly gay man and why celebrating Pride means so much to him.

Hi, Alan – happy Pride! Can you start off by telling us what Pride means to you?

I’ve been asked plenty of times in my life “why do we have Pride?” or “why do we still need Pride?” Well, the fact that we have laws which protect us as a community, that gay men who are sexually active cannot give blood, and that as a community we still feel like we need to ‘come out’ shows that heterosexual and LGBTQ+ people are not equal. That’s why we still need Pride. 

I am proud of who I am and no one will ever take that away from me. My main drive in life is to spread awareness, educate and discuss important topics so we can stand together as one. Because for us all to live equally we need to understand each other completely. Pride is a great way to educate people for the future, as well as celebrate the history and achievements of the LGBTQIA+ community.

At LV= GI, we’re proud to be an inclusive organisation. How does our culture enable you to bring your full self to work?

LV= GI puts its employee’s right at the heart of everything they do. Its diverse and inclusive culture allows for open conversations and the business also supports major events such as Pride. If we weren’t locked down, we’d have been front and centre of the Birmingham Pride March this year! We’re also currently running a storytelling initiative where colleagues recount stories and share their life experiences. These stories are supported by resources that help others educate themselves further on any topic raised. LV= GI gives individuals the platform to tell their stories, to help spread awareness and educate those who want to understand more.

You obviously now know that LV= GI is a safe environment where you can truly be yourself, but how did you overcome any initial worries you may have had about being openly gay at work?

My coming out story isn’t the best and still affects me 13 years down the line, so I always have apprehension when starting a new job. I think every LGBTQIA+ person has that worry initially. But as soon as I entered the training room on my very first day here, I knew it was going to be okay. My team and manager were very caring, which really helped me open up about who I was. 

What’s the best thing about working at LV= GI in Birmingham?

I would say, hands down, it’s the people that make working here so great – everyone is caring and open. Not only that, but they are keen to listen and understand your point of view. I’ve never had a bad experience with someone whilst working here. I can happily say LV= GI has been fantastically supportive throughout my career.