Pride or shame?

In support of Pride 2020, our Founder Dean Hunter writes here about his journey to becoming happy and comfortable in his own skin, and offers his advice to anyone feeling as he once did.

For many years it wasn’t so easy to feel proud about who I am. Initially, as a member of the LGBT+ community, pride was the last thing I felt when I realised I was gay.

I worked in a company of 8500 people and didn’t know more than one or two gay people who were brave enough to just be them; so felt lost as the only one in the village! The feelings were of shame, embarrassment, stress and worry. I knew some members of my family would be devastated and I didn’t want my daughter to find out before I could tell her myself. Those conversations played over in my head for years until near breaking point. Why had I been cursed with this?

I still went to work and I still did my job to 120% of my ability. It was tough, tougher than it should have been. People face a lot worse – but I couldn’t deal with it.

I often wonder if I would have reached a more positive place with myself quicker if there was a hand, a kind voice, some advice, someone telling me “you know what? it’s going to be tough but you will get there” and “just be you”.

So for anyone out there at university, college or at work who worries about what the future holds for them, or is concerned about who they are – my advice is take your time, be you. The fear of telling people will mainly be in your head not in others. Tell people when you are ready. Don’t let you eat it up. Talk to people who you can trust. This is one of the most loving and accepting communities that exists. Once you get to meet more people like you, you will realise that you do fit in and these negative feelings will turn into positive ones.

It helps if, as business leaders of this community, we stand up and offer that support and advice to those in need. I am always happy to chat to anyone who is struggling with feeling comfortable in themselves and I’m sure many of you are too.

Many lives are lost from people who simply cannot deal with their identity and feel shame. So please be kind, because trust me that person will have enough to deal with already.

So yes – another gay+ company logo, but now I mean it. And now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.