Name: Gamal Turawa
Role: Diversity Facilitator and Retired Police Officer
Sector: Emergency services
Why are workplace role models important?
I was the Met Police's first openly gay black police officer. I’ve been blessed to have spoken across the country and across Europe on diversity issues. I know that being out has helped others to join.
Role models are important because they show people that you can be yourself and it doesn't have to be a fight – it can be an asset. Being true to yourself means you can be a more valuable employee in your organisation.
What was it like working in your sector as a gay person?
There are lots of gay police officers now and they’ve even formed international networks. Sadly though, there still seems to be a real lack of appreciation that there are gay people in all colours and cultures. In the main, police LGBT support groups are predominately white.
What does intersectionality mean to you?
Intersectionality means we’re not one dimensional. Being gay is just a part of my identity, not the whole. I’m the product of all my experiences – Black British, Nigerian, Muslim upbringing, Christian upbringing, male, and now semi-retired. To me, it means valuing the whole person who’s the sum of all their parts, instead of putting them into only one box because of one aspect of their identity.
What’s the role of active LGBT allies in the workplace?
Allies help those who are not yet comfortable with their voice have a voice. They show that acceptance is not just for the individual, but for everyone.
But as an LGBT person, I think it’s important that you’re clear in defining yourself. Be comfortable within yourself and in the main people will be comfortable with you. A major part of any interaction is what you bring the table – your confidence, self-worth and pride. Friends and allies come in all guises, so don’t limit your options by narrowing your awareness.