Sharon Stewart-Smith - LGBT role model

Area Manager – Hampshire Registration Service

My role in Hampshire County Council

I work as an Area Manager within the Registration Service. Equality is hugely important to me and I am delighted to be part of a service that works hard to ensure equal access to all service users within the parameters of registration law. I was privileged to be part of the Registration Service at an historic time in 2014 when same sex marriage become legal and I was thrilled by the level of support there was for this to finally be legal and accessible for all. I am proud to lead a team of great people who embraced this change and who were keen to deliver their first marriage for a same sex couple. It is hugely satisfying to see individuals of all ages, race, disability, gender and sexual orientation have equal access to our services at what are generally hugely emotive times for people.

My identity

I identify as gay.

Why it is important to be a role model

I do not consider myself to be a ‘role model’, but I am proud of who I am and am happy to stand up and be counted in our workforce if that helps another who may not feel as confident about their identity or sexuality. Growing up there were not many visible role models for me, so I sought out others to try to understand who I was and find a place to ‘fit’. To do this I had to move to a city and build enough confidence to enter the gay community. I realise that the internet has now made this more accessible online, but I still believe there is relatively poor access to groups and social events for gay people in many towns and smaller cities, so there is plenty of improvement still to be made. My hope is that being visible helps other individuals find the courage, confidence and support to accept themselves and be who they want to be.

Sharon Stewart-Smith