Steven Heyward, PCS Proud Secretary and South West Regional Convener, blogs on why its vital that LGBT and equality issues are at the heart of our youth campaigning.
I often hear that because I am young, I don’t have to stay in the public sector administrative role that I am in any more. I can go and become a doctor like I always wanted to be. The fact is, I can’t just leave and go back to college and study for almost 10 years to become a doctor (I would have to re-sit a bunch of stuff) because I have a family, a home and financial responsibilities like many young people do these days.
I thought that instead of writing a blog post, I would tell you about a typical day in my household. I have also thrown in some real examples that I have dealt with as either the PCS Proud Secretary or a shop steward.
05:30 – The alarm goes off… My fiancé gets up and makes coffee. To someone who doesn’t sleep so well, coffee is like nectar.
06:30 – After putting my socks on (which would be quite comical to watch, I’m sure) and fighting with other items of clothing and getting myself ready, we leave for work. As we live in Wales and we both work in England it means catching the train or driving. The train costs a fortune but driving and parking would too. There lies the dilemma!
07:30 – I am logged in to my computer and phone at work whilst saying good morning to my colleagues that are in at this disgraceful hour. I love some of my colleagues, some of them make me genuinely smile and some of them like Doctor Who too… I grab some more coffee and yawn a bit whilst checking my emails and ‘flagging’ what I need to sort out sooner rather than later.
10:00 – Had a meeting with a member of the union who is unhappy at work and needs PCS’ assistance, glad I could help but, with the attacks that union reps face on facilities time, it can sometimes be difficult to help people as much as we would like without sacrificing something but I would do it time and time again.
11:45 – I heard a conversation in the office about someone who was perceived to be gay… I remember thinking to myself that it shouldn’t matter, as long as we can work in an environment free of persecution, discrimination, and victimisation and bullying then we should not gossip about sexual orientation or gender identity. I have a letter that I need to send someone but I am almost seething at listening to things like this.
12:00 – Message to my other half “Can we have lunch now? I am famished!” We used to treat ourselves on occasions to sandwiches at the local sandwich shop but since we got on to the property ladder, I can’t afford to eat sandwiches that I haven’t made at home for less than half the price. I also need to escape because I am sick of hearing “You won’t be in to football because, you know” in various sections of the office.
15:00 – Decided that I have had enough for the day. I am totally enlightened about my future by colleagues that tell me things that I can do when I get older (I can already get a driving license, vote gamble, drink and smoke, borrow money, buy property, have sex and stuff so what other things do I get to do later on in life?) and how I have so much freedom being younger and all that.
16:00 – I have really had enough now. I beg my other half to make the journey from three floors above mine so we can leave the office. I normally like a 3PM finish as I get in early but I need to build
up the flexi so that I can attend meetings with and on behalf of union members as well as other bits and pieces….
17:00 – I am home… that kettle goes on again and I have coffee and start thinking about dinner again….
22:00 – I need to go to bed but I have been preparing some union work for one of the committees I sit on but the alarm is due to go off in the near future so I must stop fighting the desire to get things done and hit the sack.
There are other bits and pieces that I have experienced that don’t fit in to a typical day. For example, when I was at a hotel recently, for an LGBT event, I put my partner down as my carer as well as my partner but because he is another man, we can’t possibly share a bed and so he is given the adjoining room… a bit insensitive really don’t you think?
What does this have to do with Young Workers Month?
Well, just because I am young it doesn’t mean that I can just up and leave my workplace for education, I have bills to pay and education would bankrupt me at this point. Education should be free and something that enriches your life, not plagues your life or haunts you with debt.
I have been on strike recently for an increase in my pay, I’m not asking for much but a cost of living increase. On top of this, rail operators charge extortionate fees without looking after their staff or trains… #PeopleNotProfit! Therefore because young people can legally be paid less than their older counterparts the Government are sponsoring an age related pay gap.
Also, just because my family is not a “nuclear” unit it doesn’t meant that we are a lesser family.
I get called names and treated differently because my partner is another man. I know colleagues from across the LGBT community that get treated differently because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
You’ve read about my day and you can see that I have similar issues to a lot of people apart from the odd bit of prejudice etc… that are specific to my sexual orientation.
I have a friend who blogs frequently and recently did a blog about not grieving for their daughter (a piece about gender identity from a parent’s point of view) http://t.co/LR4dgV4Fmf which I encourage you to read. Having reflected on this blog and stewing on my thoughts I guess I want to say:
Do not be sad for me because I face issues or prejudice. Do not think that LGBT people have it terribly because it’s not all bad. In fact, some of it is beautiful. Instead, stand with me and fight for young people, LGBT people and all and every under-represented group in society. For when we fight we have a chance at winning the battle. Do not sit there and think it is ok to make reference to someone’s sexuality or gender identity “just because” but don’t be afraid to ask me questions about who I am. I don’t like football because I am not keen on sports, not because of my sexuality.