Student Success Manager
Kent Business School
Tell us your coming out story
I ‘came out’ whilst at uni: after a 3-year school relationship with a girl, uni opened my eyes to what accepting my sexuality could bring, and so I kissed a boy (and I liked it!). I came out to my mum drunkenly on the phone shortly afterwards, and to my Dad two weeks later. I still feel like I’m coming out every time I tell people I don’t know about my husband though, so it’s never really stopped.
Did you have any LGBT+ role models growing up? Who were they and why?
No! Like literally none! I wasn’t wildly into any of the out gay pop stars when I was growing up and we didn’t (knowingly) know any gay people. I think this is why I’ve made it my unofficial life’s mission to be a role model for other gay people.
Have you suffered prejudice in your job or personal life and, if so, can you describe what effects it had on you?
I have… and without giving any detail it almost broke me. Thankfully I found the strength to turn a huge negative into a positive and I can honestly say that I’ve never been happier in my life. What the experience did teach me though was how much prejudice I had already faced without even realising it… and now I can’t help but spot it, which can be hard, but it spurs me on to do something about it!
What would you say to those who may be facing difficulties regarding their LGBT+ status at work?
The first thing is much easier said than done, but it’s to remember that the law is on your side; discrimination against LGBTQ+ people is illegal and indefensible. If it’s insipid bullying you’re facing, just ignore it, or complain about it; they can’t do anything concrete! The second thing is – if you have the confidence – speak up. If we remain silent, nothing will change.
What can we all do to make University of Kent a better place for being an LGBT+ member of staff?
ENGAGE! It’s so easy to “let other people” do things, but in numbers we have power! Let’s show the rest of the community that we are legion, and that we won’t let injustices go unchallenged!
What do you think of being LGBT+ in Kent?
It can be a bit tough in such a large county, given that our diverse communities are so dispersed. But being close to London really helps, and the rise of some of our really inclusive Pride events means that things are slowly changing.
Why do you want to be an LGBT+ role model? Why is it important?
When I was growing up, I had zero gay role models. I spent ten years as a secondary school teacher and saw how important it was for young people to have positive role models in all aspects of their life. Since then I have made it my mission to be a positive gay and queer role model for those who feel less empowered to live their sexuality as openly as me.
Bob is happy to be contacted by email: B.McKay@kent.ac.uk