I've never felt like I had to hide who I am
We've asked civil servants to blog about why it's important to #beyourself this Pride. Aaron Booth is part of the Civil Service Fast Stream. He writes about his positive experiences of moving departments and feeling comfortable coming out at work.
By Aaron Booth
One of the reasons I am proud to work for the Civil Service is because I’ve never felt like I had to hide who I am.
I think this is important because unlike a lot of other employers there is an acceptance and even sometimes an expectation that you will move between many different roles over your career.
I’ve worked in the Civil Service for just under 3 years and I am currently in my 4th role, having worked in two different departments. I consider myself lucky to work for such an inclusive employer; moving between roles and offices can be daunting, even at the best of times but it’s been easier as a civil servant.
It’s important for everyone to be comfortable to be themselves at work, quite frankly, because you spend so much time in the office. Hiding who you are and creating ‘micro-lies’ to cover up your sexuality takes up a lot of time and effort that could be spent elsewhere. Not to mention the stress you would be under juggling both your work and the lies you have to maintain.
As someone on the Fast Stream programme, I’m expected to change job roles every 6 months; I have to introduce myself to a new set of colleagues fairly often. While I am totally comfortable with talking about my partner and sharing who I am, I know of other colleagues who decide to just keep it under their hat since they may only be in a job role for a short time.
Events like Pride are important to normalise being LGBT in society. Every LGBT person can empathise with that tension you sometimes feel when you’re with your partner in public. It may be because you have just kissed and you’re having a quick look round to make sure nobody is disgusted, or it may be a group of young lads who have gotten onto the bus or tube.
In light of the attack in Orlando it is clear we still have a long way to go in society to normalise being LGBT, but I am proud of the progress that the Civil Service has made to normalise being LGBT in the workplace.
I remember when I first joined work and understood what processes were in place to protect me, I was so surprised at the difference in attitudes from somewhere like school where I had left not long prior. In school a homophobic comment, slur or even an attack would be treated with a slap on the wrist while I am so proud to know that in the Civil Service you are much more protected.
These rules that are in place, and the broader work in the Civil Service through CSRA and campaigns like Role Models allow me to be comfortable with being who I am in the workplace and I would like to send a message to everyone that I hope you can feel comfortable being yourself in work, in Public and at Pride as well.