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25 February 2022

2014 was a historic year for LGBTQ+ rights in the UK. Whilst the parliamentary passing of the same sex marriage law happened almost a year earlier (in part, thanks to our Chairman, Sir Hugh Robertson), it was not until 29th March 2014 that the first same sex marriages took place in the UK. This seems absurd when we consider this now, in 2022, with all the incredible diversity that is offered within our communities. And while we’ve come so far, it has not yet even been a decade since same sex marriage was legalised within the UK, and the battle for worldwide LGBTQ+ equality continues to this day. But, whilst there is still work to do, we can celebrate the progress that has been made.

The impact sport has had on me embracing my sexuality

Sport can be a particularly toxic environment when it comes to equality. As a sportsman, I always felt uncomfortable being who I am. That feeling was not forced by anyone within the sport - although sometimes there is still the odd slur - it was forced by my own insecurity and not understanding how others would or could react. I saw every negative before any possible positive.

When Tom Daley came out, it was a momentous time. This incredibly popular, talented sportsman was standing there and saying ‘I am me, I am still going to be an Olympic medalist, I love this country, I love my sport, but I am also a gay man’. He used his platform for good, to allow people like me to see it is not something to be ashamed of and, by standing up, maybe we can make a small difference to others. I have followed Tom’s journey even more so since then, seeing him get married, have his little boy and become a huge figure within the LGBTQ+ community. Someone to look up to for what he has done. Who I am now is partly down to Tom - happily married to my husband, and on our own journey to beginning the process of adoption and starting our own family.

In 2021, another huge moment occurred when Joshua Cavallo of Adelaide United in Australia came out as gay. Josh is the first openly gay footballer in any of the world’s topflight leagues - that seems crazy! Statistically in the English Premier League, there would be enough LGBTQ+ footballers to field three 11-a-side teams, yet not one player has come out as gay. I think what speaks volumes for Charlie (my husband) and I is how at our wedding, a huge variety of people attended and a large portion of the guest list came from our football club. This goes to show just how far football has come. It didn’t matter who I was in love with, what mattered is that they were my teammates, managers and committee members.

Looking back to the start of our engagement…

On Wednesday 17th June 2020, I took a step that I never expected to be able to take - I proposed to my then boyfriend, Charlie. The fact that I was able to do this, not only personally but with the support of both our families and the venue at which I proposed, shows how far we have come in the world. Everyone was all too happy to share our joy. Though sadly, we saw both ends of the spectrum which proves we still have many battles ahead. Charlie’s auntie has been distant since we first got together but, despite that, Charlie wanted to send her an invite to our nuptials. We never received a response from her and since then, she has ignored us whenever we’ve bumped into each other in town. It is really disappointing to know that some people still hold archaic views on marriage… But nothing was going to dampen our parade!

The big day arrived!

Thursday 2nd December 2021, our wedding day, was the happiest day of my life! Celebrated (heavily) with family, close friends and colleagues, all of whom are incredibly important to our lives. We were surrounded by people with the same beliefs - that it doesn’t matter who you love if you are yourself and true to who that is.

Being my true self at work

Testament to Camelot. 10 years ago, mentioning your own personal life in the workplace as a gay person just wouldn’t happen. On our wedding day, I was able to enjoy my day whilst celebrating with my colleagues. Throughout my journey, and I know through our journey to come, my team at Camelot has always been incredibly supportive - and not just my team, the wider Camelot network too. Working for a company that promotes the rights and equality of every employee is hugely important and I am proud to be a part of that here at Camelot.

The future for myself and others that identify at LGBTQ+

Do we expect everyone to ‘embrace the gay’? No, of course not, we completely understand that, through history, homosexuality has been a taboo subject, something often punished. We understand that there are some views and values that are not in favour of how we live our lives. The ongoing conversation of LGBTQ+ equality should not be about accepting the different areas of our community, because it is far more basic than that. The conversation should be ‘do you accept human beings as they are? Because every single person, gay, straight, black, white, rich or poor, fundamentally is the same – a person, with thoughts and feelings, who can love and share that love’.