18 Feb 2021

Coming out stories from Anchor Hanover - celebrating LGBTQ+ history month

Sharing more about their work to support LGBT+ residents, tenants and communities, Anchor Hanover’s, Cressida Stanley-Williams, wellbeing service development manager blogs for CIH.

At Anchor Hanover, our resident LGBT+ group has been in place for over ten years and we’ve been working hard to champion the LGBT+ residents voices across the organisation. This was recently recognised through the HouseProud Pledge scheme where we have just achieved Pledge Plus status for our work around hate crime and weaving resident LGBT+ lives through our training programmes. We are looking forward to continuing our action plan and adding to our list of work that the resident group want to see put in to place.

Our rainbow network members have been supporting LGBT+ residents in lockdown by holding weekly social Zoom calls with them. Residents can drop into the call as and when it suits them, and these have been promoted as part of our coronavirus response to support resident’s mental wellbeing and to help reduce loneliness and social isolation.

In a recent get together, residents were talking about LGBT+ history and how times have changed for them and others. These residents are proudly part of our LGBT+ history and helped campaign for the rights we have today.

They also talked about how 'coming out' is a series of events and that they are still coming out in different environments and to new people every day. Within a housing context, this can include new neighbours, new Anchor Hanover colleagues and importantly, new contractors who often will be accessing their home which, for us all, is our own private space.

As part of LGBT+ history month, we asked some of our colleagues and residents to share their experiences of ‘coming out’. We wanted to see how similar or different the experience was for those in different generations. Here are some of their stories.

Callum: In 2015 at the age of 13, I came out as gay to my parents. I just didn't have the same feelings towards women as I did with men. My parents always knew, making it easier to be myself with them. However, when I told people at school I was put through hell and experienced lots of bullying, which the school did nothing about.

If I didn't have my family supporting me during this time, I wouldn't be the person that I am today. I am a really happy 18-year-old who is not over-emotional anymore. I can take jokes and am not affected by the people who made my school life hard. Overall if none of that happened, I wouldn't be where I am today, but having support from those closest to me was the most helpful.

Paul – In July 1959, I was 16. I'd left school and was working in a restaurant in Dartmouth until I attended college in September.

One day my father, who worked in the Air Ministry, turned up unexpectedly, telling me I was to come home after an old friend of his called him to tell him who I was spending my time with. In 1959, being gay was not the sort of thing you broadcast, and my father was fearful for his job. He wasn't interested in my welfare or my coming out (though I certainly didn't think of it as such).

I determined from these first conversations with my father that I was never going to lie about who I was. I never regretted that decision. 

Howard - Looking back, I think coming out has been a mixed process. There was coming out to oneself and coming out to others and in various situations. There were also the times I hid who I was, either through fear or ignorance of my true self. I suppose it is not a one-time event but a continual process.


You can find out more about the work Anchor Hanover do to support LGBT+ colleagues and residents on their website.

Written by Cressida Stanley-Williams

Cressida is the wellbeing service development manager at Anchor Hanover.