As part of Stonewall’s 30th birthday celebrations, we’re sharing the stories of people affected by positive change to legislation.
Please note that Karl’s story contains reference to sexual assault and homophobic abuse.
What does LGBT equality mean to you?
LGBT+ equality is of paramount importance to me. As a teenager I always felt somehow less than everyone else. Being treated differently for something you have no control over is awful. Eventually I decided that it’s actually silly and irresponsible to let someone's ignorance or arrogance affect how I feel about myself. Having that realisation empowered me and made me determined to fight for equality in any way I could. That’s why I joined the police - now I can provide support and guidance, and defend equal rights for all people.
What made you want to share your story?
My past experiences drove me to stand up and be counted. As a teenager I was victimised, verbally and physically attacked, and then, in 2001, I was sexually assaulted. Being homophobically abused was torture, not only because of its impact on my physical body but also my mental health.
Enduring that abuse made me experience a whole range of emotions: guilt, stress, anger, self-loathing, fear, anxiety, depression, and the feeling that I somehow deserved it. There followed a long period where I only had myself for support and guidance. That’s a heavy burden for a 14-year-old child to carry, but subconsciously a fire was lit within me and I developed a personal mantra: ‘Never again, Never me, Never you, Never Again’.
From then on I was always searching for ways to put my mantra into action and in 2015 I found the police. For me it was the perfect path towards feeling empowered, useful and committed. Now I am in a position where I can affect change and protect the vulnerable. Through my trauma I have been able to turn horrific abuse into a tool to ensure that, for myself and others, ‘Never again, Never me, Never you, Never Again’.
Tell us about your own personal star moment.
Our community has benefitted from so many positive changes in the fight for equality, such as the abolishment of the death penalty for homosexual acts in 1868, or, more recently, the equal marriage legislation that made it possible for me to have a husband. These are some of my star moments:
- In 2014 I had the honour of witnessing my sister marry her wife and be afforded equality under the eyes of the law.
- In 2016 I was able to be legally married to my incredible partner.
- In 2017 I became an uncle to the beautiful Neve. Her mothers (my sister and her wife) were able to use IVF to conceive and were supported by the NHS and other services without stigma or prejudgement.
- In 2019 I have been able to engage with youth services and schools across the area I work, teaching awareness and tolerance of the LGBT+ community. I do this with confidence and the reassurance through the positive changes in legislation and I’m able to make a positive impact in the community I serve and on the young people that will be our future leaders, activists and inspirations for the next generations.
What are your hopes for the future?
I dream of a world where people can grow and develop their own personal characteristics without fear of repercussions, violence or judgement. I want to live in a world where no matter who you are, the treatment of all humans is the same: fair and equal.
What would you say to someone who wants to support LGBT equality?
The more voices belong to a cause, the more likely they are to affect change.
As Ghandi said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. Don't stand on the side-lines: to sit back and watch when there is injustice in the world is not fair and not right.
Stand up, be counted, use your assets to create positive change!