Paul Marsh - LGBT role model

Commissioning Support Officer for Learning Disabilities

My role in Hampshire County Council

I am a Commissioning Support Officer for Learning Disabilities. I am not based in one specific location, as the role takes me to most parts of the county. However, I spend the majority of my time in Andover, Winchester and Eastleigh. My role is to support the Commissioning Team to provide and maintain accommodation and care services for people living with learning disabilities.

My identity

I identify as gay. I have always known this but found it very difficult to admit it to myself, despite having supportive family and friends. I finally acknowledged it in my late 20s and then came out a few years later in my early 30s.

Why it is important to be a role model

I am a larger guy who has always been drawn to other larger guys. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, gay men did not look like me…or that’s what I thought. My only access to the LGBT community was through the stereotypes portrayed in the media and I could not relate to them at all. They did not represent me and so I always doubted myself.

It wasn’t until the arrival of the internet and then social media that I was finally able to get a better understanding of the diversity of the LGBT community and realise that I wasn’t some kind of outlier. I was finally able to access information and communicate with people I could relate to, often in other parts of the world. I could see others living a life that I could be happy living and that made all the difference.

Whilst my role models may not have been significant public figures, they were people who looked like me, liked the things I liked and lived a life that made them happy. For some reason, I wasn’t able to go out there and grab that life without seeing other people living it first.

Without those role models to talk to, seek advice from and glimpse at the journeys they took, I would not now be married to a wonderful man, and be living a life I wasn’t sure was possible when I was younger.

I would like to try and help other people, even in the smallest way, in the same way other people helped me.

Paul Marsh