The journey to coming out
During Pride 2021, the Firm was fortunate to hear Gareth Thomas tell us about his journey to authenticity. It was a deeply personal, often moving and yet still occasionally hilarious account of how, despite his huge successes on the rugby field including as Welsh and Lions captain, his life remained torn and unfulfilled until he was able to share with his family, friends and wider world the real “Alfie”. There wasn’t an eye left dry or a heart not inspired.
Gareth’s story reminds us that the timing and manner of coming out and living an open and honest life is something very much individual to every member of the LGBT community. Sadly, some never feel able to manage it at all. For those that do, the people that surround them and the environment they create will have played a huge part in their decision – will those people grant me the freedom to define and express my identity, whatever that may be, and always support me in that?
Fortunately for me, I have never doubted that support from my partners and colleagues at Sackers. As for many others, my own coming out was an uncomfortably difficult time, in my case involving the hardest of conversations with my best friend Alex and our 3 beautiful children. Alongside them, it was often my friends at the Firm who got me through each day as they patiently put down their pens and allowed me to talk, time after time.
When it came to defining and expressing my identity, colleagues never blinked at some of the accessories it then seemed so important to me to wear on dress down days in the office as part of my own journey towards self-love: yellow hi-top boots, rainbow laces and pink sunglasses to name but a few! As I now look back, now at ease with myself, the outlandish clothing all seems a bit ridiculous perhaps, but the space to breathe and to be allowed to do all that, without judgement, was more important than words can describe.
I’ll always remember reading that Diversity and Inclusion is not about tolerance or acceptance. Such words imply that, as far as matters of gender and sexuality go at least, anything beyond the heteronormative must somehow be tolerated or accepted. D&I is instead a celebration, both that we are all individuals and also that we ultimately share the same humanity. It’s a huge privilege for me to head up a Firm which embraces the celebration in the way that it does.