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I am Harrison Lee; reflecting on my own identity

In 2014, I joined Virgin Media as a door-to-door Sales rep and then moved into the Learning & Development team after about 18 months. I’ve now been at Virgin Media for nearly five and a half years. When I think about Inclusion, I reflect upon my own identity. Growing up gay was a battle for me as it was most but a battle between who I was and who I wanted to be, which just completely confused me in the process.

My coming out story…

I always knew from a young age that I was gay, but at that particular time in my life, it wasn’t the done thing to be “a gay” and it wasn’t on my radar to tell anyone, especially my parents. After exploring my sexuality on a trip to America when I was around 14 years of age – I came back to England and realised that this is who I am, but I couldn’t tell anyone at all, apart from my best friend in school and her older brother who was gay – he was totally out and was quite happy to tell people about himself, how I managed to keep it from my parents I do not know. But back then, it was a very taboo subject; teachers would pass a blind eye and ignore it. I would be the one to get in trouble for someone calling me GAY!! Or camp Freddie I was nick named for a short time – not that I am camp, that was just the name I adopted for a while. That was when I actually had the courage to get up and go to school in the first place!!

Fast forward to when I turned 17, I decided to tell my dad. I thought it would be easier because we never really had a close relationship; he left when I was six years old and my parents didn’t speak to each other so I knew I could tell him and my mum would never find out.

I sent him a text – a long detailed one, but because he was driving, my eight-year-old sister read it aloud to him. He tried to call me straight away but I couldn’t answer, no way could I answer!!!, so he called my mum instead. He said “H just called, telling me he’s gay – is he winding me up?” obviously my mum was clueless and when I went home that night, mum was waiting for me and just said, “Is there’s something you need to tell me?” it was crunch time, I had to admit it, looking forward to the feeling of love and acceptance only to be told “must be a phase, you’ll snap out of it soon…what do you want for dinner?” I was confused, shocked, but kind of relieved at the same time because I knew we wouldn’t need to speak about it.

It took a few years for people to understand it wasn’t a phase and I lost some friends along the way and a few family members too but this only taught me how to be resilient. It took a while for everyone close to me to get to grips with it. I wasn’t allowed to speak about it or bring a boyfriend home – so I moved to Brighton, got my own place and created a new family, one filled with good friendships. Plus, I’m happy to add mum and I are closer than ever and she wouldn’t change me for the world.

When it comes to working at Virgin Media, I feel that I can just be myself. I don’t have to hide, which has really helped to build my confidence. I spent many years at school being someone else and when I look back, I question why I never had the confidence to just stand up and be proud of who I was. Since being involved with the LGBTQ+ community, it has given me the confidence to network, to “Build connections that really matter” and step out of my comfort zone. Being gay doesn’t define me, doesn’t make me who I am but it’s important to be upfront and honest at work and at home.

I’m happy to say that Virgin Media celebrates diversity and inclusion, so I’m proud of who I am and what I can accomplish and am thankful to work for a company that lets me be loud and proud about who I am!!

Posted on by Harrison Lee