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Sharing Suffolk Stories: Ann

Ann has shared her story with the Pride in Suffolk’s Past project through our online survey.

“I was in the WRNS [Women’s Royal Naval Service] at the time [of my coming out] and went through an investigation process that ended in me being dismissed, hence I had to come out to family quickly. [My] parents told me to come home but we never really talked about my gayness. I had been in the navy for nearly nine years so had no recent connections in Suffolk. My mother referred me to a colleague who happened to be gay and life started taking off. I knew no one and was jobless, the only way was up! I worked for the NHS at a local psychiatric hospital and met some gay women but wasn’t out, I knew instinctively that coming out at work was not an option.

Working for the NHS as I say above I knew instinctively that coming out would not be an option. I didn’t receive any violence but there was some subtle bullying from my boss. Being in the navy I learnt to live a secret life and be very careful so the NHS was a similar lifestyle.

I left the NHS job and worked for local social services and was amazed at the difference in culture and acceptance of being gay, so was able to be out with colleagues and staff. For the first time in my life I could be me although still careful in certain situations.

Unfortunately I couldn’t be out in my last relationship as my partner was too worried about her family knowing about our relationship. We were together for 27.5 years before she died. For the last 6 months we lived together but still kept up the facade of being friends! Her daughter-in-law finally asked me after her death and I was able to tell her that yes we had been in a relationship. It seems most of the family thought so but it was never talked about. Her daughter still doesn’t know and would probably deny it.

Life would have been so much easier to be out. I can’t imagine couples living like that now. Most people I know know I’m gay which I would never have envisaged when I was younger. What’s more I don’t care who knows now.

As a young woman I had a self-destruct trait and was basically unhappy and confused. My journey- secrets- a big chunk of my life has been hidden.

As a older gay woman it’s been difficult to have the confidence to join gay groups having been outside that group for so long. Once I took that first step, I’ve found the groups I’ve joined very welcoming and supportive. [I’ve] joined various women’s groups since my partner died in 2014. Last year I joined the Pride march in Ipswich with the women’s groups, my first ever and was amazed how friendly it all was.”

Next – Nina Frances Layard >>