To recognise and celebrate LGBTQ history month, 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 19 years ago, 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.
Carl Austin-Behan, the former Lord Mayor of Manchester, 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. 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:
For Queer And Country: Is Today’s Royal Air Force ‘Accepting And Tolerant’ Of Sexuality?
For Queer And Country: Did LGBTQ Media Portrayal Help Gay Armed Forces Come Out?
For Queer And Country: Has Life Improved For LGBTQ Serving Personnel Since The Ban Was Lifted?