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Proud to be in the Hotseat #001

To celebrate Pride month, Blue Beyond is sharing stories and thought from its members about LGBT+ issues, policies and initiatives.

First up in the hot seat is Blue Beyond founder Luke Robert Black.

“I was asked by my team to name my biggest LGBT+ inspiration. After much consideration, I realised that the best person(s) to nominate were my friends. As a bloke with only one other gay male friend at his disposal, you could argue that I needed more support – but this couldn’t be any more incorrect.

They’ve supported me, stuck up for me in horrible breakups and sometimes even complained that my boyfriends have got bigger biceps than them (sorry Aaron). But fundamentally, they have never treated me any differently to anyone else. It’s a passive acceptance and the sign that really – deep down – that the gender of the individuals whom their friends fall in love with is an irrelevance.

L-R: Luke, Nick, Cara, George, Hannah, Bella and Alex

I know it’s an unfashionable view that doesn’t fit the narrative that many want to tell about the masculine heterosexual rugby boys at university, but my experience couldn’t be any more different. From a very early stage at university, I was always supported. My female friends were of course extremely supportive and remain so, but the nonchalant way in which my male friends interacted with me about my boyfriends, guys I was dating and so on, was always in the same fashion if the gender of the subjects of those conversations had been female. In just a few months, becoming friends with them undid the years of pain that many of us feel growing up gay at an all-boys school. I had been denied of my masculinity and denied the formative years of finding my own identity, after being pigeon-holed into a lifestyle on the basis of my sexuality by my peers. I finally had the male friendships that I had missed out on in the formative years of my life at school.

No fuss or attention has ever been made about my sexual orientation because, for them, they accept it – it’s part of the furniture and always has been. There’s no need to treat me any differently or single me out because. They see me for who I am. They accept that for me and see that the gender of who I love is just a detail - that I like to define my identity in other ways. They’ve always welcomed my boyfriends, made a concerted effort to get to know them and completely normalised us as couples – with no fanfare or overcompensating attention.

So, I would like to thank you the heterosexual men in my life, Simon, Aaron, Nick, Alex B, George, Alex Pu, Alex Po – jeez there are so many Alexs – Will, Sandy, Sam, Rhys and everyone else, for never treating me any differently and being proud of who I am.”