Jordan Cleary - LGBT role model

Customer Service Assistant HR Adviser

My role in Hampshire County Council

I work as a Customer Service Assistant at Winchester Discovery Centre, doing everything from issuing books, stock management and being a secret agent for the Summer Reading Challenge. That last job is a particular favourite.

My identity

I identify as a pansexual man, which is a sexuality I hadn’t identified as for very long. I used to say I was bisexual, but as my understanding of gender has developed, so has thoughts on my own sexuality. Thinking about it, I really don’t care about the gender of my partner, and I don’t think I ever have – only my knowledge of different expressions of sexuality has changed. Therefore, I’d say I’m happier identifying as pansexual as opposed to bisexual.

Why it is important to be a role-model

When I was growing up I never had any role models or a positive LGBT message. I was schooled during part of the infamous ‘Section 28’ law, so school didn’t provide much of an environment for learning about the importance of diversity. Even after the repeal, sex education was limited to fairly sanitised lessons on safe-sex for straight couples. I found it wanting, to say the least.

Having a role model would have made coming out and being active in LGBT activism and support much easier and even desirable at that age. It was only at University that I truly grew into my identity and began campaigning for greater equality and awareness through my University’s LGBT society. It was amazing to finally decide not to care about wearing rainbow laces, or hold my boyfriend’s hand.

Working in libraries has strengthened my love of literature and culture in promoting LGBT causes and issues. LGBT reading groups, like the one in Winchester, are fantastic ideas and should be encouraged. Books have always been places of resistance against social oppression, homophobia being just one of them, and within the past two decades, the profile of LGBT fiction has grown, and will hopefully continue to grow. In their own way, books are a type of role model.

Jordan Cleary