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I have always felt anxious at transitions. From beginning my first part-time job, starting university, starting full-time work…

All these transitions have one thing in common. They eventually mean having to decide whether it is safe to come out or not.

I remember my first big transition in life, starting work. The new job made me realise that coming out was never going to be a one-off event.

Instead, it was going to be something which I would have to choose whether to do at each new transition in my life. From then on, I have always had to be careful to decide whether I felt that sharing I was a gay man would help or hinder my chance to flourish in a new environment.

Sometimes being open about my sexuality did help. For example, in one job, I bonded with my co-worker over my dating life, and it made us closer. It opened a whole new avenue of conversation topics and made the shifts pass by more quickly.

However, there were also times when choosing to come out hindered me. In another role, after coming out to two colleagues, they subsequently treated me very differently and avoided me on shifts.

After my first negative experience when coming out, I was torn about whether to be my true self. On the one hand, it meant that I was less likely to have negative experiences, but on the other, it meant that I could not be my true self at work.

Shielding myself from the possibility of negative experiences did help in some ways but, if I decided not to share my identity, I would also feel anxious about coming to work.

I did not want to face the types of questions, such as “are you dating anyone?”, which would make it hard to hide my identity.

Feelings of sadness would often follow when I decided not to come out at certain points in my life, but as I grew older and had more positive experiences of coming out, I have tended to choose to come out more often, particularly as society becomes more welcoming of LGBTQ+ people.

Since starting full-time work, I have been lucky enough to find a place where diversity is celebrated and where I have amazing LGBTQ+ colleagues who unashamedly embrace who they are.

This has helped reinforce for me that I do not want to hide who I am. Instead, I want to be myself and use my energy to allow other LGBTQ+ people to have the choice to be unapologetically themselves too.

One way I currently do this is by being an ambassador for Just Like Us, the LGBTQ+ young people’s charity. Through Just Like Us, I’ve training and mentoring, which has helped me to talk about LGBTQ+ topics more aptly, particularly in the workplace.

Consequently, I have had many opportunities to speak to hundreds of students at schools and hundreds of employees in businesses across the UK about LGBTQ+ allyship. As a Just Like Us ambassador, my aim is simple: tell people my story of coming out in the hope that we can make the UK a more inclusive and accepting space for all LGBTQ+ people.

Whilst I am sure that there will be many more life transitions to come, I now feel more confident to be myself and own my sexuality during these periods.

I hope that by going into schools and workplaces with Just Like Us that more and more LGBTQ+ people will feel the same.

Rich volunteers with Just Like Us, which provides LGBTQ+ 18 to 25 year olds with LGBTQ+ career mentors. Sign up now to get involved.