In the first of our Equality “Day in the life of”, a Young PCS LGBT member gives an example of their daily experience. If you want to find out more, we recommend the LGBT Proud website for more information, support and how you can get involved.
05:40: Time to get up. It’s freezing cold outside and I want to stay in my nice warm bed but I can’t do that because my flexi isn’t looking so good, thanks to a couple of doctors appointments that I had to attend.
06:30: I’m finally leaving the house. It takes me a while to get moving in the morning, not because I was staging a “sit in” under my nice warm duvet but because of some mobility issues.
06:53: A crowded train takes me on my daily trip from Wales to England after I pay the £150 each for me and my partner to get a monthly train ticket.
07:25: That was an uneventful train journey, me and my partner get the odd look from people because it’s obvious that we’re a couple. The look on people’s faces is sometimes rather funny. It’s as if they are saying “They’re a couple! But they’re two men!” This is very rare though, mainly it is just a case of looks that say “Who do you think you are, sitting down at MY table?” as if it was a table that they privately owned.
07:30: Ahh the beep of the clocking in machine. The little screen reads -14:44, two days down, it’s impossible not to go down on the flexi when you just need R&R before you feel like going off with work related stress.
07:35: On my way to my desk where I will log on to my computer, check my emails and the stack of paper on my desk.
10:30: Still checking my emails, I am a week behind on them because of the amount of work I have waiting to be done. It surprises me that the odd “gay joke” slips out of my colleague’s mouths from time to time as if I was ok with it. They’d probably say that “They have loads of Gay friends” which makes it perfectly ok to tell people homophobic jokes.
12:30: I have had enough of looking at my screen so it is time for lunch. I must escape the building now and have my lunch (couscous and a cigarette). As well as having a continuing build up of emails, I have an even bigger build up of cases that need looking at. 120 cases is too much for one person to have, especially as there is nobody to do the work if I’m not here. My colleagues try and help each other when off but the reality is that they have too much to do themselves so everyone has a backlog somewhere.
13:00: I am back at my desk, I have to go to a meeting in a minute to talk about whatever is the flavour of the week. It’s funny that a colleague I haven’t met before starts chatting to me and when I mention my partner works in the Civil Service and that he is in the same position as every other AA/AO member of staff I get a funny look (it’s really not that surprising that my colleague is male, is it?)
14:00: That was a fruitful meeting if not for the fact that it was a break away from the mountain of work but I also got to talk about LGBT equality and LGBT history month. Apparently that doesn’t have anything to do with work, until I remind my colleagues that it most certainly does because each of the people we deal with has the right to be treated in accordance with the Public Sector Equality Duty. If we had proper equality training then it might be easier to understand because E-Learning isn’t the best method of learning and understanding things that can be quite complex, I find it doesn’t sink in with me but it’s a lot cheaper than facilitator led learning.
16:00: I shifted a couple more cases but can’t take any more. I feel like I need to go home.
You know, it’s not always as bad or manic as this every day but it is hard to stay positive when you are afraid to be “out” in the workplace. The above story isn’t a true one but it is formed of real examples faced by a young person who identifies as LGBT. Being judged based on stereotypes or treated differently to colleagues because going to a “straight bar” might not “be your thing” is really quite counter-productive. As well as poor pay and terrible workloads it is difficult to not go home with work related stress.
One of the things that we must do to counter this is get in touch with our local union reps or even a member of the PCS Proud National Committee for some support in tackling issues in the workplace. We have the right to work in a safe and supportive environment and nobody has the authority to take those rights away.