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“I could either be happy or suppressed”

As Pride season gets into full swing, we hear from our colleague Ann Harris who works as a Customer Service Analyst in our Fraud team, on her journey towards acceptance and the importance of the season for her.

My journey towards acceptance began when I was 15 and being able to live my life as my true self has involved a heavy price.

I knew I was bisexual at an early age. I had a girlfriend when I was 15 but it was kept hidden because of the perceptions of people around me, particularly those of my family.

My dad didn’t know that I was bisexual and kept asking when I would settle down with a man. He was understanding when I told him, but he warned me that the family would not accept it and he was right.

I had a choice, I could either be happy or suppressed. For a long time, I hid away and was secluded from them all. Then about six years ago I thought I am who I am, and if they can’t accept me then I’ll walk away.

Walking away was a massive thing, but it wasn’t healthy being in that environment. Just because someone says you’re not normal doesn’t make that true. Everyone should be able to expect acceptance and unconditional love from their family.

 

A sense of belonging

We all want equality and a sense of belonging, that’s what pride is. At NatWest Group we have the Rainbow network. For me, joining the network was like being welcomed into a new family. I’ve always had challenges with being kind to myself, but the network’s support has allowed me to step out of the shadows, to be more extroverted, to really shine as an individual, and be accepted for being me. I have truly come out of the supressed shell I allowed myself to live in for so long.

 

Taking Pride

Pride month is dedicated to celebrating the LGBT+ communities all around the world. It's about people coming together in love and friendship, to show how far gay rights have come, even if in some places there's still some work to be done.

I’ve never really felt ready for Pride, between my family problems, poor health and the pandemic the timing has never been quite right. I got to attend a Virtual Pride Lunch last year on Zoom, with likeminded people and had a ball so I’m buzzing for Edinburgh Pride to come. It’ll be nice to be surrounded by people who will give me acceptance and not judge me for who I choose to be with.

Pride is incredibly important, as there are still so many people that are very much anti LGBTQIA+ and so much hate can be aimed in our direction because of who we identify as and who we love. Taking part in Pride is being part of a huge voice to promote equality within the community and attempt to stamp out hatred directed our way.

 

More about our Rainbow Network

Our Rainbow Network provides support to LGBT+ colleagues and allies with issues relating to LGBT+ matters in and out of work, as well as helping to professionally develop its members. The network also supports with NatWest Group’s LGBT+ agenda and policies. Find out more about our employee-led networks.