Having open conversations on #BiVisibilityDay
Stuart Andrews shares his thoughts on what it's like working in the Civil Service and being bisexual for #BiVisibilityDay.
I wanted to share my experiences for Bi Visibility Day. The Civil Service Rainbow Alliance are doing a piece of work to support colleagues identifying as bisexual, pansexual, asexual, queer, or with other minority sexual identities and I have agreed to give them some information on my experiences working in the Civil Service and identifying as bisexual. I wanted to share my response here too in case others felt they could draw on my support.
Identifying as a bisexual man has not always been an easy experience, but things have changed a lot in recent years. I did not come out until I was in my mid 30’s. When I joined the Civil Service as an AO in my 20’s I briefly dated a woman in my Department. After our relationship ended I heard a senior manager ask her if I was gay which I felt was really inappropriate. Within a couple of years I discovered another AO had created a false profile on a well-known gay dating website to see if I had a profile on there, so I had to take down all the pictures of me on the website in case this other colleague outed me behind my back. I didn’t know what to do so I did nothing about it.
Things have got better but there’s still a long way to go. The launch of DWPride has really let me be me. I first came out as bisexual during Bi Visibility Day which is an important day that the Department has started to widely recognize.
Knowledge really is power in supporting bisexuality. There are still assumptions about being greedy or undecided, or fashionable. Being bisexual isn’t some alien position, it isn’t a choice; it is just another state of definition much the same way as a person may identify as being straight or gay.
People have asked why do we need another day to be acknowledged for LGBT? It certainly feels like a sexual orientation which people are uncomfortable talking about and there are lots of misconceptions. As the Civil Service I feel we need to open up big conversations both locally and nationally, with visible leaders identifying as bisexual role models and colleagues being comfortable in asking questions. I’d rather have colleagues ask me a million questions than a couple of uncomfortable rumours behind my back. For me, opening up conversations is what Bi Visibility Day is all about.