We believe it’s important that our people feel comfortable bringing their true and authentic selves to work.
Ahead of IDAHOBIT Day – International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia – on Thursday 17 May, we asked some of our AGL Shine* members to share their stories about identifying as LGBTI or being an ally.
Phillip Moore, Recruitment Operations Manager at AGL, remembers how tough it was coming of age in a small community in New South Wales’ southern highlands.
“Like most gay people in small towns, I felt that I was the only gay person that existed,” said Phillip.
“It was a very scary and isolating feeling. Nine nights out of 10, I’d lay in bed for 15 minutes up to four hours, visualising the day when my family and friends found out about me, rejecting and hating me.
“I’d pray to God to make me straight and contemplated if people would be better off if I wasn’t around.”
As a teenager, Phillip felt luckier than most other young gay guys as he was good at “masculine” sports like Rugby League.
“Even though I preferred talking to the girls at lunchtime, I played some footy on weekends so people wouldn’t question my sexuality,” said Phillip.
“But I remember thinking that I’d never make it as a footballer because, one day, everyone would know I was gay and I didn’t think I had the courage to be out and proud in such a homophobic environment.”
While he remained silent about his sexuality throughout high school, the pressure for Phillip to speak out started to build.
“Feeling like no one really knew who I was started to suffocate me, more so than the fear I had of people finding out about my secret,” said Phillip.
“I began to contemplate coming out and thought long and hard about who I’d tell first.”
A year before telling anyone, Phillip learnt of an old primary school mate who had come out as gay. Being friends of the family, he remembers how sad his dad was to find out Sam’s parents had disowned their own son. The worst reaction any gay child could experience.
So, when the time came for Phillip to share his secret, he was overwhelmed by the loving reaction he received.
“The friends I chose to tell first were so perfectly supportive that I eventually found the courage to tell my parents,” said Phillip.
“Through it all, my parents never made me feel like they didn’t love or accept me. They just needed time to adjust – much like I needed eight years to feel ok before telling anybody.”
Recognising IDAHOBIT Day
As a business we recognise IDAHOBIT by having open conversations with our people about LGBTI inclusion.
“Sometimes, and especially after victories like last year’s Marriage Equality ‘yes’ vote, it’s easy to think that most of the hard work for achieving equality for Australia’s LGBTI community has been done,” said James Bruce, AGL Shine Chairperson.
“That’s because we’re often quick to forget just how different things were for LGBTI people in fairly recent times, and how tough being yourself can still be in certain parts around the country – particularly outside large cities.
On IDAHOBIT Day, please take a moment to reflect on how far we’ve progressed with embracing our differences and know that there’s still more to be done to bring about equality for everyone.
Visit the IDAHOBIT Day website to learn more.
*AGL Shine is our internal network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) people and allies, promoting inclusion and support to colleagues who identify as LGBTI.