Today (23 September) is Bi Visibility Day, which aims to highlight biphobia and raise awareness of the bisexual community.
Michelle, who works in IT at Kier and is a Kier LGBT+ role model, tells us about her experience.
“B stands for bisexuality, but I am not one for labels. I believe we are all the same and yet different and we all experience a different journey to discover who we are.
“The way that you identify is not limited to gay or straight. There is social pressure to choose a label. This could be for the convenience of others, or it could be your decision because it is easier than trying to explain who you are.
“It took me many years to understand and accept that I am bisexual but even now this identifier doesn’t quite sum it all up because there is more to me as a person and my sexuality than a label.
“My first job was in the Armed Forces, at a time when homosexuality was illegal. I felt like I had to hide part of myself, which was incredibly difficult. By the time I left the Forces, homosexuality was legal, but I still didn’t feel comfortable being completely open with my colleagues. I found myself trying to work out who I was at the same time as getting used to civilian life.
“I went to work in HM Prison Service, where I found a good network and could be myself. Now, at Kier, I feel like I can bring my whole self to work. There is support for anyone who wants to be here, from whatever background.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about what bisexuality means and looks like and sometimes the stigma makes me want to scream. Makes me want to hide who I am. Makes me want to shout out ‘I am not confused!’
“Bi Visibility Day is a great time to talk about the stereotypes around bisexuality and increase people’s knowledge and awareness. I’m part of the Kier LGBT+ and Allies Network and am an LGBT+ role model. That means I’m someone who identifies as LGBT+ and can provide support for others who want it.
“The Kier LGBT+ and Allies Network is important in encouraging LGBT+ employees to bring their whole selves to work, while raising awareness around the business and helping to tackle unconscious bias. It’s important to be yourself at work, and I’m proud to be part of a group that helps facilitate that.
“The way that I identify and define my sexuality might not look the same as the way you define yours, but that does not make my identity more real or less real than yours. It just means that we are different, and that's OK.
“How boring would life be if we were all the same?”