At Camelot, we’re huge advocates of bringing your whole self to work. Meaning, regardless of your sexual preference or the gender you identify as, we want our people to feel accepted and comfortable being themselves.
To help create a safe space for people who identify as LGBTQ+, along with their allies, we have formed a Pride Network. This community of people come together to not only support one another, but also to help educate the business on LGBTQ+ topics.
Keri, one of the Pride Network’s members, shares her journey with us…
Tell us about how you discovered the Camelot Pride Network.
I joined Camelot in September of 2019 and, at 32 years old, I had never felt comfortable sharing my sexuality openly for fear of judgement. I was single but I was starting to talk to a few people online and was arranging some dates. Still, this wasn’t something I was sharing with many people - well the dating women part anyway! I had my first introduction day at Camelot, which is where I first heard about the LGBTQ+ Community (the Pride Network). This captured my attention and I was intrigued. On my second day, I was introduced to one of my team members. He was showing me through the intranet and I mentioned how great I thought it was that Camelot has this community. He then turned to me and said he was actually the co-chair and that he was in fact bisexual. The fact he was so open with me and spoke so passionately about this community made me feel comfortable enough to share with him my own orientation. On learning that, he asked if I wanted to grab a coffee and have a chat.
How did the Pride Network help you feel accepted?
I had never met anyone else who was openly bi before. I had friends in the past who were curious but would now say they are straight (or like me, just don’t feel the need to tell anyone as they have now settled with male partners). Being able to talk to my work friend, share my experiences and to also hear his was so liberating!! I felt accepted and I felt part of something. It was like a weight had been lifted and suddenly I was able to share this with people. Of course, I wouldn’t start with “Hi, I’m Keri and I’m bi”, but in getting to know people you end up asking about partners or potential partners and it felt so good being able to talk freely and not worry about having to hide anything. The people at Camelot who knew made me feel so normal! I felt for so long that this wasn’t normal and that I should hide this part of me. I wasn’t straight, I wasn’t gay, I was confused. But no, actually, it is completely natural. It isn’t something I can control and there is nothing wrong with it!
Being part of the Pride Network has given me a feeling of belonging, being open without judgement and it is such a freeing feeling!
Did the Camelot community impact your life outside of work?
Yes, I felt I now had the courage to talk to my mum. I mean, I was already thinking about meeting someone and I wanted to be able to share that with her. So I just blurted out “I have been talking to some people, women too actually, I’m bi” and she replied, “Oh ok”.... well talk about anti-climatic! When she realised I was waiting for more, she said that she would never judge me on that, it’s not a big deal at all and as long as I'm happy, she’s happy! My mum is an amazing person, but I honestly thought she would feel embarrassed of me, or not understand, or question it, but I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better response! Now I don’t care who knows! Camelot played a massive part in that and now I finally feel I can say…. I am bi and I am proud to be!
It’s currently LGBT+ History Month. Why is this so important?
It’s a time for us to recognise historic LGBT+ leaders and celebrate the progress made towards full LGBT+ equality. However, we may be living in an era of wider sexual acceptance, but there is still a lot of stigma surrounding bisexuality. Biphobia (an aversion to bisexual people) is mostly born of misinformation and fuelled by myths and biases perpetuated by people unfamiliar with bisexuality. There are also a lot of misconceptions about bisexuals - some of the most common being: they need to have relationships with both females and males in order to be truly bisexual; that they are promiscuous, which leads some to assume they cannot be monogamous and will stray “the other way”; that bi people engage in more sexually deviant exploits; and that they are confused or even just attention seeking. As a result, many bisexuals choose to remain in the closet for fear of being perceived this way and judged.
Anything else to add?
We have all been on a journey and some of us still are. I can’t say I am not feeling nervous and vulnerable myself about my own story, but if it helps in any way, with understanding, or reaching out to someone that may be struggling, then it’s got to be worth it.