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18th March, 2021 |

5 minutes

"My differences weren’t just accepted, but valued."

Neal Roye (he/him)

Before joining Home Group, Neal experienced homophobia and bullying. He plays an active role our employee networks Pride at Home, Partners in Pride and our Life Swap programme.

We should all be a bit more patient and understanding, through an interest in diversity, we can all learn and enrich each other’s lives.

I’m a black, gay man, of mixed heritage (Jamaican, Irish, Native Arawak Indian), a spiritual Christian and amateur musician, singer and dancer.

I was high-achieving at school but post-puberty experienced bullying, poor grades and lack of focus due to just being ‘different’. After retaking my A-levels, I studied medicine at university and was a closeted, shy young man.

I experienced a lot of ignorance and aggressive homophobia from my church, black communities and some of my friends and family.

Instead of listening to the cacophony of bigoted opinions I worked on accepting myself and realised that God still loved me. I found the strength to come out to my family, friends and the world who were mainly very accepting.

Remaining in the closet until age 24 was deeply damaging to my sense of self-worth and I experienced stints of major depression. I was looking for a new job and seeing Home Group placed in the Stonewall Top 100 Index was a huge factor in me applying. I was warmly welcomed and felt instantly at home; my differences weren’t just accepted, but valued.

Since joining I wear my rainbow lanyard proudly and take an active part in our employee networks Pride at Home and Partners in Pride.

My role models include Billy Porter from the show Pose; confidently expressing his identity and challenging the mindset of what a strong man looks and acts like. Others include Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Mahalia Jackson, Peter Tatchell, Sir Ian McKellen and Bette Midler; inspiring me by their talents and civil rights work.

We should all be a bit more patient and understanding, through an interest in diversity, we can all learn and enrich each other’s lives.

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