09 October 2020
To mark National Coming Out Day on Sunday 11 October, the Trust’s Non Executive Director Sally Glen shares her LGBT+ journey. Sally is also the lead for the Trust’s Speak Up Guardians.
The first time Sally had heard of LGBT+ was in her early thirties. Having been raised in rural Hertfordshire in the 1950s and 60s, it was unheard of for any adult in her local community to be divorced. “I don’t remember anyone in my schools that had single parents,” she. “Where I was brought up, our path was set for us – we get educated, married and then have children.”
“My mother wanted me to become a teacher so I have more time off to raise my children,” Sally adds.
Being gay was illegal in the UK until the time Sally first attended University, studying child nursing. But despite this change, many people were still hostile about those who were gay. “I was politically engaged, but there were never any LGBT+ groups around for us to be educated or be aware of the community. At that point, I never considered what my sexuality was. I focused solely on becoming a nurse.”
When Sally was a student nurse, sex was a taboo subject. She recalls nurses having to sign a form that forbade them from visiting the homes of their trainees, and men would never consider becoming nurses, not until the late 1980s.
The 1980s was the turning point for Sally. The rise of feminism in London raised awareness of the LGBT+ movement to levels never seen in the previous decades. It was then, while studying for her Masters that Sally, first became aware of who she truly was and identified as a lesbian.
From that moment, Sally’s career blossomed, working her way up to being a senior lecturer, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean.
To Sally, being part of the community was natural. Yet, while she has witnessed people making homophobic comments about others during her career, she felt lucky that nothing was aimed at her. “I’ve been very privileged,” Sally said. “I am a white, middle class woman, worked my way up the ladder and have a successful career in the NHS and in education.”
“In fact, the discrimination I faced was around being a woman in leadership. I was once advised to lower my voice as some deemed it to be too high pitched.”
As a Speak Up Guardian for the Trust, Sally always makes herself available for staff who feel they’ve been discriminated against. She also realises that not everyone is receptive towards those from the LGBT+ community. Her advice to those in that position, “It’s important to be sensitive towards other people’s views. We all have different experiences. If you look after those who don’t agree with you being LGBT+, do what you can to help or find other ways for them to be cared for if they cannot see beyond who you are.”