LGBT+ profiles

WHAT'S IT LIKE IN THE ARMY?

Hear from some of our LGBT+ officers and soldiers about their experiences serving in the British Army.

 

Musician Carse

Musician Carse
My name is Rhona Carse and I am a musician in the British Army.

I currently work for the Band of the Scots Guards in central London. Our main job role is to provide musical support for the Guardsmen and Royal Family during the Changing of the Guard, and other ceremonial events in and around Buckingham Palace.

I identify as Bisexual, and play an active role in the Army LGBT Forum as one of three regional reps for the London area. My wife and I take part in various Pride marches throughout the year and we have recently done some fundraising for LGBT charities as well. I started dating women in my late teens, and coming out to my loved ones was a relatively pain free experience. I've always had a great support network around me. My friends and family are loving and loyal, and as I have grown older I have found great support and friendship in my local LGBT communities as well. Playing my part as an LGBT activist is important, because not everyone experiences that same level of support.

Major Barlow

Major Barlow

I am a Regimental Medical Officer (GP) for an infantry battalion based in Cyprus.

 I qualified as a GP in August 2017 and have been in the Army for 13 years, completing my medical training as a cadet in the UK. I will be based in Cyprus for another two years and then hope to continue as an RMO in the UK with an interest in medical education.

I identify as a gay man and am fully open, both in my medical place of work and within the Battalion that I serve. Coming out used to be more of challenge in previous years; I now believe that this is much less of an issue in the Army than when I first joined. I have moved job roles and locations many times in my career and have been honest and open about my sexuality with colleagues both junior and senior. My current Battalion have been fully supportive of me being ‘out’ in the workplace; I was open and honest with my Chain of Command from the outset and this was appreciated.

I have previously worked in Lichfield and was a member of the Surgeon General’s Diversity and Inclusion Network. I am also a member of the Army LGBT Forum.

Colonel Phillips

Colonel Phillips

 When I joined the Army 23 years ago, I didn’t feel confident to be open about being a gay woman. I felt then that I had to live two lives – one at work that meant that I couldn’t talk about my relationships and my friends; and one at home where I could be open about being gay. Since then the Army has moved on considerably and I am very confident about just being myself and being proud to talk about my home life and my wife.

In many ways I think the strong moral code within the Army provides me with a stronger level of support than I imagine that I would receive in a civilian role. Since I’ve been able to be open about my sexuality, I can honestly say that I have never felt treated differently for being gay. In the Army, what matters to other people is how good I am at my job, not who I choose to go home to at the weekend.

I’ve been in the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers for 22 years and I’ve loved every minute. I feel challenged, rewarded and empowered to make a difference. I’ve had the privilege of commanding REME soldiers as a Platoon Commander, a Workshop Commander, a Company Commander and as a Battalion Commander. Now I am the REME Corps Colonel so I am the head of the Corps and I have the opportunity to travel widely to visit REME people around the globe. I’ve also played a lot of sport – from hockey in New Zealand and New York, to sky diving in Germany, and mountain trekking in Kenya and Tanzania.

Captain Rowland

Captain Rowland

I'm 29 and have served as a Royal Artillery Officer in the British Army for eight years. I currently serve as a Recruiting Officer in London.

I am an International Rugby Player, and have recently represented Wales in the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 and Commonwealth Games 2018. The Army has given me the opportunity to travel around the world with both work and rugby, as well as developing my leadership skills and team work ability which has enabled me to perform well both on and off the field.

I am grateful for the challenges I have experienced throughout my Army service whether that be leading a team of soldiers on operations in Afghanistan or representing my country on an international sports field. I have always been open about being gay and my partner has been made very welcome by my colleagues; I think I receive more respect for being open about who I am.

Sergeant Lonergan

Sergeant Lonergan

I’ve been an Army Reservist for more than 20 years. I began my military career at the relatively late age of 30, having spent several years as a ‘stay at home’ parent. I came out as gay after the ban was lifted and was one of the original 9 Army personnel to march in London Pride in 2008 (when permission was granted to march in uniform). I’ve taken part in the march and supported the Army contingent at London Pride every year since then. I’ve also been an active member of the Army LGBT Forum and I’m the Reservist Representative on the Forum Committee.

I made the decision to transition to male in 2015 shortly before I turned 50. This was a difficult time as I had to explain my feelings to my grown-up children and my wife. I’m pleased to have successfully navigated through various problems; not least the fact that my wife identifies as a lesbian.

When I transitioned, I was employed as a Detective Constable working in Child Protection. After coming out to my line manager, I found myself on the receiving end of both good and bad aspects of Kent Police’s diversity/transgender policy. As a result, I gained a position on the Kent Police Diversity Board where I was able to contribute to policy changes that would support and protect the transgender and non-binary officers that followed me.

I’m a Sergeant in the AGC (SPS) and am currently working as the 68 Signal Squadron clerk on an Additional Days Commitment engagement. From October 2018, I will also be a mature student studying for an accountancy degree in the evenings at a local University. I live in Central London and spend as much time as I can with my ever-growing family – I’m currently the proud ‘Grampy’ to 5 grandchildren. I remain passionate about human rights for the LGBT+ community and hope that I’m a good role-model for my family, colleagues and other people I meet.