I have been active in LGBTQI advocacy ever since university in the 1990s, when I lobbied Parliament for the repeal of Section 28, lowering the age of consent for gay and bisexual men, and campaigning for better support for LGBT students at a time when it was scarce. At that time, I worked in the infamous LGBT cafe/bar, First Out, and became involved in promotions and fundraising in Soho in the late 90s. I began my professional career in the voluntary sector where I spent 10 years as a Communications Manager working on campaigns such as reproductive and sexual health projects in Africa and Asia; community and social enterprise with economically-deprived UK communities; and welfare to work initiatives with lone parents and ex-offenders.

I joined the Civil Service in 2008 in the Home Office and then Victims and Witnesses Policy, establishing myself as an expert in assessing equality impacts of policy decisions.. In 2012 I moved into a corporate role in HR, where I work in Diversity and Inclusion. Since 2015, I have been voluntary Chair of Spirit, the MoJ LGBTQI network and on the steering board of the consortium of LGBT+ networks in the public sector. During my tenure I have helped drive LGBTQI inclusion in MoJ through reforming HR policy, developing LGBTQI guidance for all staff, nurturing over 70 LGBTQI staff and allies to share their stories, and leading MoJ from 204 to 13 in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index as well as achieving Gold status in the a;gender TIP measuring workplace trans inclusion. I also volunteer for the charity Diversity Role Models where I share my story as a LGBTQI role model in school to build LGBTQI awareness and reduce homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

When I first came out, following a difficult period of acceptance, I found a community of solidarity which me recognise that I could put this experience to good use in showing others that even though it is scary, we have the power to change culture and thinking by being authentic and part of a wider dialogue. I have never been in the closet at work. And this meant that I was the victim of banter, stereotyping and direct discrimination. However, I developed resilience and with each new job I pushed the boundaries further in incorporating LGBTQI inclusion in my work. I have always had the belief that you sometimes have to make it hard for yourself now to make it easier for others in the future. It has meant that I have led from a position of understanding and experience as I was there as some of the worst times when we didn’t have equality legislation to protect us. It means I can constructively challenge where I still see inequality happening.