Peter Stokes - LGBT role model

Commissioning Officer, Adult Services

My role

I work as a Strategic Development Manager in Adults’ Health and Care. This involves managing a team to develop services to help to ensure that vulnerable people can continue to live independent lives in their communities across Hampshire.

My identity

I am a straight man, amongst many other things!

Why it is important to be a role model

I don’t feel like a role model. I just want to ensure that people are able and feel able to be accepted as who they are, without fear of prejudice and discrimination. If I can stand up and be counted in some way towards achieving this, I think it’s my responsibility to do so.

My first awareness of issues related to LGBT discrimination came when I was at secondary school. I remember my English teacher telling us that we couldn’t read Oscar Wilde as a class due to Section 28, that at that time banned teachers from ‘promoting homosexuality’. I also remember being bullied by some at school who thought I was gay and how isolating it felt.

After university I became a youth worker, and maybe because of these early experiences in life I became passionate about promoting acceptance and challenging prejudice and discrimination with young people. I also helped to re-establish an LGBT youth group to give young people support and advice and the opportunity to explore their sexuality and gender identity. I remember one trans young person from this group, who wrote that without the support of the group to be who they are they wouldn’t be alive. More than anything working with this young person showed me the importance of being accepted for who you are, and how being accepted can make a life changing difference to your confidence, happiness and wellbeing.

I, like I think most people, want to live in a world where we are all happy, confident and positive about life, whether this at home, in work or in the community. If I can make it easier for someone else to be themselves, whether at home, at work or in the wider community by challenging LGBT prejudice and discrimination and promoting LGBT acceptance as a straight man, I can’t think of a reason for not trying.

Peter Stokes