I am Laura Leathwood; Out, and proud to be

Laura Leathwood

Customer Sales Advisor

September 27, 2019

Hi, I’m Laura, a Customer Sales Advisor based in Sheffield and have worked for Virgin Media for eight and a half years.

This Inclusion Week is focused on Everyday Inclusion, the importance of feeling that you belong and identity. My identity is a massive part of my life. I only came out just over two years ago. There wasn’t any particular reason as to why, I just hadn’t explored my other options before. I love the fact I am what I am and if anyone doesn’t like it then I really couldn’t care less as I have a fantastic support network of friends and family.

I was around 25/26 when I started seeing women as well as men and I do believe I would have done it earlier had I been in an environment where it was more socially accepted. At school all my friends were into boys and I thought I must be too – that must be the ‘normal’ way to be. I’m not sure but I think I probably had signals and inklings that I preferred women when I was a teenager but never acted upon them. Education around sexuality is so important, given the way society has built it up now. I think schools need to do a lot of work around LGBTQ+ and support those teenagers who may be struggling to understand their feelings. It’s important for them to know they’re absolutely normal and it’s perfectly fine to fancy whoever they like regardless of identity or gender.

I feel lucky to work for such an inclusive company like Virgin Media who value every person without judgment. I work with so many colleagues who are part of the LGBTQ+ community and it’s lovely to see such a mix of people as one big family regardless of their sexuality, ethnicity, gender or religion.

I think if I was coming to work in a place where I felt intimidated or that being gay was an issue, I wouldn’t come, it’s really that simple. No one should ever have to feel that they’re not equal, that they don’t belong. I am a human being who loves another human being that’s all – it doesn’t matter to me whether that human is male or female.

Coming to work and being treated equally is what we all deserve. My family and friends accepted me seeing women as soon as I told them. Unfortunately not everyone is so lucky, their families don’t agree or accept their identity and I think having an inclusive work environment can help those people so much as they can talk to colleagues/friends and know that they’re not alone.

I just hope that anyone reading my story finds the courage and inspiration to be just themselves. It’s cool to try new things, it might not be for you but give it a go. Yes it was scary but I am so glad I did it as I am now engaged to a wonderful woman.

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