Nikki Naylor – Role Model of the Year in the North West and Programme Manager
I am the 2015 Stonewall Role Model of the Year for the North West and a proud LGBT role model within my workplace.
I work as the Programme Manager for Bury Adult Learning Centre at Bury Council. Most of my working life has been spent supporting people to become equal and valued citizens. My work is important to me as a woman with disabilities who was denied an education for that very reason.
Prior to coming to Bury Council, I had questioned my sexuality but failed to find gay companions or role models. Despite these questions, I married a man and we had children but within months I realised this life wasn’t for me.
It took quite a few years before I ‘came out’. My youngest daughter was 12 months old when I entered into my first devoted relationship with another woman. We bought our first house within six months. My family initially rejected me, however, slowly they came around and realised I was totally in love and I wasn’t about to back down.
Months later, my manager questioned why I was wearing a ring on my finger. I proudly told her it was a commitment ring and that I was with a woman. She was really pleased for me. I did not ask her to keep it to herself and she was quite open with a number of my colleagues, which eased the burden. It took away the wasted energy that you face when you meet someone and you do a 'mental risk assessment' about whether you should disclose your partner isn’t a ‘he’.
I wouldn’t say I’m a perfect role model - there are times I've avoided defending myself for fear of breaking down when discussing contentious issues at training events, during informal discussions or whilst giving presentations - but since attending the Role Models Programme and being awarded the Stonewall Role Model of the Year for the North West, I am much more confident about speaking out.
Positive role models are so important and it's vital to understand we don't have to like everything about them.
My ex-husband is one of my role models because, despite everything, he raises his children as a loving father and continues to respect and value my difference, so that we can strive to be good, positive role models for our children and unite the wider community.
The programme inspired me to deliver a training package to all the Equality Employee Groups to develop an understanding of this and to further the equality agenda by working together to embrace difference.
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