This year marks the 20th anniversary of the lifting of the ban on LGBTQ personnel serving in the British Armed Forces.
To recognise and celebrate, we’ve been speaking to lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender service men and women, about their experience of being LGBTQ while serving in the British military.
Conversations in this series reveal how far the British Forces have come since the ban was lifted 20 years ago, and we are sharing the stories of LGBTQ personnel and veterans.
Some of these individuals are serving openly, some have hidden their sexuality and, prior to the ban being lifted, some were forced to leave because they were found out.
Watch the interview below with retired Lt Cdr Patrick Lyster Todd who provides a fascinating account of what it was like serving as a gay officer in the Royal Navy when homosexuality was banned.
Patrick discusses the newly released book 'Fighting With Pride, LGBT In The Armed Forces' which brings together the inspirational stories of LBGTQ personnel who have served in the Armed Forces, with BFBS's Verity Geere and Richard Hatch.
Some others with fascinating stories to tell include Carl Austin-Behan, the former Lord Mayor of Manchester, who was thrown out of the RAF for being gay. He took a trip down memory lane to meet with openly bi-sexual serviceman Cpl Owain Bridge currently serving at RAF Wittering.
Jo Mundi is the new Scotland representative for the Army’s LGBTQ forum. She took over from Dougie Morgan who spent nearly fourty years in the British Army and for a lot of that time he hid his sexuality. They recently caught up at a popular gay bar in Edinburgh to look at how much things have changed over the last forty years.
Squadron Leader Catherine Lawson joined the Royal Air Force straight from school in the Nineties while Caroline Paige served in the RAF for 34 years and was the first openly transgender officer in the UK Armed Forces. The two good friends met up to reflect on the changing attitudes in the RAF.
Ann Miller-McCaffrey joined the WRNS in 1987 and currently represents the Royal Navy in the Armed Forces Diversity Engagement Team based at Sandhurst. Steve Powell is now with the South Wales Ambulance Service, but served with the British Army from 1988 to 2000. They recently met for the first time over lunch at a restaurant just off Old Compton Street in the gay heart of Soho in London.
As part of our For Queer And Country series, we have been looking at the transformation of equality and diversity in the Armed Forces in a series of articles, videos and conversations recorded for audio and radio broadcasts.
All the stories can be found on forces.net at https://www.forces.net/lgbtq with other related stories focussed on the LGBTQ community and issues.
Hear some of the conversations in the following links:
Image of Victory Building at HM Naval Base Portsmouth, illuminated with rainbow colours to mark 20 years since lifting of LGB military ban. Credit: LPhot Rory Arnold, Crown Copyright