Date published: 23 February 2024

 February is LGBT+ History Month and the aim of the month is to promote equality and diversity for the benefit of the public.

It is a celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and gender diverse history, including the history of LGBT+ rights and related civil rights movements.

This year’s theme celebrates LGBT+ people’s contributions to the field of medicine and healthcare both historically and today.

Providing a platform for LGBT+ people to be able to tell their stories is so important because it reminds us all, despite your identity or sexual orientation, everyone can achieve their full potential and contribute fully to society in their careers and personal lives.

Further to a story shared by Interim-Chair of EMAS LGBT+ Network Anthony Sinclair earlier, another colleague with a totally different background would like to share her own story in support of the LGBT+ History Month.

"Hello! I’m Yvonne from the Communications team. Originally from Hong Kong, I’ve been working at EMAS for almost a year. Like many working women, I led a long and busy working life in Hong Kong before moving to the UK in 2022.

"At first, I hesitated to share my story but after reading Anthony’s inspirational story last week, I felt compelled to share mine as well.Yvonne Cheng.jpg

"When I was young, I always thought I would have my own family one day; including a loving husband and maybe our own children by my mid-thirties; just as my parents or peers would expect of me.

"But it seemed this plan had to be re-considered when I realised I had feelings for a close friend, who is also a woman. From previous relationships I knew how good it felt to be truly in love with someone. At the same time, I remembered how shocked I was to realise these feelings because until then I thought I used to be only attracted to guys. This discovery was something new and big to me, and I didn’t know how to handle this.

"While I understand some people are born gay and lesbian, I don’t believe that’s what I am. I chose not to seek advice from my gay friends or others, preferring to introspect and come to terms with my feelings independently. I needed to observe the innermost of myself for some time carefully and quietly, without being affected by others’ opinion or perception, in order to digest and accept this ‘change’.

"It took me almost a year to identify myself, my orientation, and the relationship with my partner. I realised a relationship could be developed by people with the same gender. At the same time, it could be developed where gender and other factors are not boundaries at all, as long as the couple share similar values, interests, dreams and passion in life. 

"I’ve been fortunate to have a supportive partner who has stood by me, including in our decision to move to the UK and start a new chapter.

"I was even more fortunate to have the opportunity to work in the EMAS Communications Team because it allows me to contribute my existing marketing and communications skills and experience in my current role, while feeling accepted and respected regardless of my origin, nationality, background and orientation.

"Before joining EMAS, I could not have imagined colleagues within a work environment being able to discuss this topic so openly and freely, without the fear of being isolated and alienated. This is something I have never experienced before.

"I feel more relaxed and happier to be able to share more of my personal life with colleagues, like being fully open about my weekend plans or my holiday bucket list, without the fear that doing this will ‘out’ me.

"I've found a sense of pride in being part of a diverse and inclusive organisation like EMAS. Witnessing colleagues from various backgrounds work together towards a common goal and vision by delivering the best possible care to patients has been inspiring.

"I'm grateful for the support provided by the EMAS LGBT+ Network, which empowers and supports colleagues who may feel different from the mainstream. The work of the network encourages staff at all levels of an organisation to consider how inclusive they are, and what more we can all do for LGBT+ colleagues, service users and visitors."