Choosing to be a positive role model – an article by Stonewall’s Josh Willacy

josh stonewallJosh Willacy is an Account Manager at Stonewall, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality charity.

He manages the housing sector and looks after the Yorkshire and Humber region, advising organisations on policy-making decisions and helping them to ensure their workplaces are as inclusive for LGBT staff as possible.

Growing up mixed race and gay can be amazing in many ways, but also quite confusing and often isolating at times.

I think a lot of that does have something to do with the fact that, when I looked externally, there weren’t really a lot of positive LGBT BAME role models.

Now, as I work at Stonewall, I’ve come to find and meet and talk to lots of people that I look up to and who inspire me. However, the UK is still lacking in these sorts of role models within the media.

In the US, people like trans activist Laverne Cox and bisexual singer-songwriter Frank Ocean act as fantastic role models for especially young people.

We need to see more visible BAME LGBT role models in the UK.

Recently I took part in the Stonewall Young Leaders programme as a facilitator fo 18 to 24 year olds. What we do is challenge them to think of themselves as leaders and role models. And that can be quite difficult at times.

One thing that was raised within our discussions with the young people was intersectionality and the importance of multiple identities. It was inspiring to see young people really grasp this as a priority.

Now more than ever, I’m really ready to be the change that I want to see. I want to be a positive BAME LGBT role model in my personal and professional life.

Essentially what that means to me is to be out, to be proud and to be as visible for others as I can.

I want to engage with as many people as possible, to share my story and to influence others.

Sometimes growing up mixed, half white British and half Jamaican, I felt like my sexuality and my ethnicity were mutually exclusive, but they’re not. And they don’t have to be.

I want to commit to ensure other people know that – I want to make that abundantly clear.

Being BAME and LGBT has enriched who I am and has enriched my experiences. I want to step up as a role model and ensure that it enriches the lives of other BAME LGBT individuals too.

Follow Josh on Twitter @joshywillacy

(This article was originally published in Black History Month magazine 2015)

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