You are not logged in. Signup to contribute or login! Not recieved your activation email? Click here to send it again.


Richard, born 1973


Richard, 33, is an openly gay officer with West Midlands Police; in this interview he talks about his positive experiences on the force. He also talks about coming out to his friends and parents. He also discusses working on Birmingham’s gay scene before he joined the police and his first time in a gay club.


Early Gay experiences - 10
First coming out – 20 30
Coming out to Family - 40
Coming out to in the police – 70 80
Gay scene – nightingale, missing – 50 60
The Police, positive experiences – 70, 80, 90 100 110 120

10 Early gay experiences

Richard talks about early experiences and coming out. At school he thought something was different but was never quite right. He shied away from girls. He went to Australia in 1991 when he was 18 and let his hair down; he had gay experiences but was in denial as he was scared of the consequences. He didn’t want to be gay.

When he was 20 he lived in Sutton Coldfield and was afraid to come to Birmingham. He replied to an advert and met a gay guy which was his first full experience.

20 Wanting to come out

Looking back at his childhood it all made sense though he was still not comfortable coming out even though the hospitality industry is a fairly good gay environment, he also felt his parents were quite conservative in their views “Dad wouldn’t let me have an earring!”

30 Coming out the first time

“I always made a pact with myself that if one person knew I would have to tell everyone.” I worked for Bass and became good friends with this girl called Caroline, one night she just said to me ’Have you ever had sex with a man?’ I had always agreed with myself that I would not lie about it. I think its one of those questions people don’t like to ask, I had gone until 24 years old and nobody had asked. I came out to Caroline and said ‘Yes I am gay’”.

40 Coming out to family

That really snowballed for Richard and he decided he would start to tell everyone, his family first. They had thought he was a loner. He told his Nan first, “She’s not the norm for your Nan to be honest, we started chatting and I came out, she was fine, she’d had an inkling, and her brother was thought to be gay. That boosted my confidence to tell the rest of the family. I did a meal for my mum and told her - she asked me if I was getting married, then realised. She questioned if it was her fault. She had a lot of questions, still does, but is OK with it now although it is still hard for them to talk about it.” Richard talks of coming out to other family members, ”I don’t think my dad fully understands it, so we don’t talk about my life or me being gay. He accepts my boyfriend, Richard, and sees the companionship, not the sexual side.”

The only problem was a couple of male friends, who were very ‘off’. After that, friendship became strained. “If they can’t really accept it they’re not really friends. I’ve moved on, and haven’t seen them since.”

50 First gay club, the Nightingale,

I remember going to the Nightingale for the first time on a blind date “I was so nervous I don’t remember the entrance, the club was very large and the bar was on the back wall. The dance floor was sunken and to your right, it was dark and nothing like it is today, it felt seedy. It was a new experience and it was difficult as I had no one to share it with.”

60 Working at Missing

I wanted to make more gay friends and live a gay life. “I ended up working for Missing and it was great, I loved it”, although Richard says burning the candle at both ends did not do his health or his day job any good. He also met his first boyfriend whilst working there and even introduced him to his parents.

70 The Police

Richard says he has wanted to join the Police from an early age although he agreed the Police have a reputation for being homophobic, but he had a very positive experience and came out during the training to fellow officers, in 2002.

80 Coming out at Training

“When I first joined the Force I did not want to come out, I had heard so many bad things. I knew I wanted to be a policeman but there was a part of me who was afraid to be who I was, I thought it was so bigoted. I felt I was strong enough to handle it though and I was confident enough in my personality for people to like me for who I am.”

“I came out during training in 2002 at Ryton Police Training College, Coventry. Basically you live at the college for the duration of your training and you go and do classroom training outside training, marching. You realise you are in disciplined organisation, but I had not come out yet. Then after the first exam was coming up and we all said we would stay over the weekend and we studied together, we ended up going out in Nuneaton drinking and then I just came out. I felt very comfortable. There were no issues and it gave me confidence, some other people on the course also came out.”

90 First post in the gay village

“My first team was working out of Scala House, by where the Jester was, it was great as I was working the gay quarter. I look back on it and think ‘was that set up?’, but I don’t know, I think it was just lucky. It was great walking around the gay quarter in a police uniform, it was good for my confidence as the people who worked Scala House had to deal with the gay quarter and I felt there were no issues.”

Richard agrees that seeing a well known gay man in a police uniform gives the gay community much needed confidence in the force.

100 Pride

At Gay Pride the police had a recruitment stand, Richard had been in the police 12 months and was totally out at work. He jumped at the chance to work at Pride. He says it’s important the community can see the Police have diversified so much that they represent the communities they serve. He wanted to recruit more gay people and managed to recruit several Specials.

110 Rainbow Police Network

“Within the police there is the Rainbow Club, which is basically a group for gay officers in or out.” Richard says this is an important group as there are officer members who are not out and they can talk and they also have a confidential network “If they come to a do above the Nightingale they are not going to be seen by other officers, they don’t have to come out at work. They can have a social life and feel comfortable.”

120 No experience of homophobia in the police

Richard states he has not experienced homophobia during his time with the Police, whether during training or in his subsequent posts. He says he has felt nothing but acceptance from everyone he has met.