My personal Pride history
"Despite all that I have been through on my journey, LGBT Pride is a reminder of what has been done, and I will keep pushing towards full equality."
As part of LGBT History Month, our Community Investment Officer Anne Phillips shares her own personal history and experiences.
When I think about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride, I am taken back to how my own journey began.
My background is that I was brought up on a council estate in the 1970s and ‘80s with strong working-class values. These values were often prejudicial to others in our society; the words lesbian, gay and queer were used to verbally abuse people who were a bit different from the norm.
I was a stereotypical tomboy and that term to describe me was to the most part accepted by my peers. The difficulty came when as a teenager and young adult being a tomboy was not what was expected. To conform was to comply with the way my family and society expected me to be, so I did! I got married and had two beautiful boys, but inside something wasn’t right. I sought counselling, and through a lot of pain and soul-searching I realised that in fact I was a lesbian and denying my sexuality was making me unhappy.
Coming out wasn’t easy - painful would be an understatement. Some family members disowned me, and others told me that they already knew! In the pre-internet days it took me a while to make connections to other people with a similar lifestyle, but eventually I did. I was in a minority of lesbians who had children, but eventually managed to find my place within the LGBT community.
Around this time Section 28 reared its ugly head – a Local Government Act that banned local authorities from ‘promoting homosexuality’ or ‘pretended family relationships’, and prohibited councils from funding educational materials and projects perceived to 'promote homosexuality'. I was out and proud and this had to be stopped, so I got very involved in the movement to stop this abhorrent legislation. Meanwhile, back at home I was fighting through family courts to show why I could be a fit mother as well as being a lesbian (thanks to my ex-husband). I finally succeeding in keeping my boys in my care. In the years that followed I became a member of the Lesbian and Gay helpline and a founder member of the Lesbian and Gay Parents Group, where we supported other parents.
I have been with my partner for 18 years, and my family has returned and accepted me for who I am. I have four grandchildren, and my youngest son is gay too. Life is good.
Despite all that I have been through on my journey, LGBT Pride is a reminder of what has been done, and I will keep pushing towards full equality. This is vital to me because, in some other countries, members of the LGBT community are fighting for their lives.
There is a lyric from the song “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman which I live by, which says: “I'm not scared to be seen. I make no apologies. This is me.”