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I knew from about the age of 12 that I was different. From then, up to the age of 20, I suffered with a painful internal battle fighting against all my feelings and what society portrayed as normal. For the latter part of this personal conflict, I joined Police Scotland as a young officer who was still forcing himself to be heterosexual and moved to ‘the big city’, offering me the chance to surround myself in a wider cross section of people from varying cultures and backgrounds. 


Despite the reputation of a typically masculine culture existing in the Police, I actually found it to be a relatively  comfortable place to have discussions about difficult topics - it was my own angst that stopped me from having these sooner. I was blessed to have two openly LGBT+ officers who I had established working friendships with and they enabled that safe space to come a realisation that I was gay, and needed to accept that in myself. 


This took a longer period of time than expected. Being a young man, I was persistently asked (and still am by those who don’t know me) whether I’d got myself a girlfriend or out dating girls, which makes that familiar sensation of clamming up happen all over again.  


My coming out to colleagues and family passed virtually without any drama at all, but that combined with the stresses of policing and living away from loved ones made it a very difficult time. This was thankfully understood by my line manager of the time. 


Be assured - with time it gets easier. But with every new colleague, comes the inevitable conversation as you get to know one another, and that sensation of whether to say - “well actually, I date guys”, or bypass the topic altogether for fear of embarrassing the poor soul, and yourself. Occasionally, you have the loveliest of conversations and I distinctly remember one with a close friend of mine who was talking about the same thing – constantly coming out to new people.  


He said, that a friend of his first introduced herself and chatted with him and he felt completely at ease, as she was so open-minded. The simple phrase  


“Do you have anyone special in your life?” 


Removed all that potential dread and allowed for a non-judgemental blether to carry on without the blink of an eye.  


I guess what I’m saying is, that instead of assuming a colleague, or anyone for that matter, has a relationship with a particular gender, just consider that their partner might not be who you consider at first. For anyone considering coming out, or considering who you are: take your time, do it in manageable steps, and believe that the people who matter will admire your bravery and honesty. 

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