Today is Lesbian Day of Visibility. A day where we celebrate and acknowledge the lives and contributions of members of the lesbian community. This year, we are proud to profile some of our members and share what Lesbian Day of Visibility means to them.
Inspector Jacqui Prest – Merseyside Police
Hi my name is Jacqui and I wanted to share with you a little of my life journey, from trying to hide my true self to finally being empowered to stand tall, dance through the streets of Manchester and be very open about being a gay woman.
I have always been attracted to the same sex from early primary school, through Secondary school and into College. All that time I knew these feelings were not the ‘norm’, so I pushed my feelings down so deep, I would banish any thoughts as ridiculous and certainly didn’t, couldn’t talk about them to anyone. I was so confused, scared about acceptance from my family and friends I became emotional and angry almost all of the time, my poor mother knew there was something going on.
I have 4 brothers and 2 are also gay but that didn’t help when one Sunday I asked my brothers for help to tell her I was also gay, I can still hear her scream and then run past me as she entered my bedroom and through everything I had onto the streets. It took around 12 months for our relationship to get back on track but it did, I know sadly many don’t.
In 1997 I joined Merseyside Police and once again I went back into the closet. At home and in my social life I was my true self but I did not feel strong enough to be myself at work so I hid the true me from everyone I worked with. My life must have seemed so dull to them, I dreaded the questions about boyfriends and what I got up to at the weekend (if only they knew) a far cry from the black and white uniform my weekends were full of rainbows, dancing and romance.
As friendships were formed in Merseyside I realised I wasn’t the only person hiding my sexuality in the job, and we had a shared sense of secrecy. I would watch police officers marching at Manchester Pride and feel excitement about what could be, but then I would return to work and listen to the comments and my rainbow screaming to get out would stay quiet and hidden.
In 2007 I transferred to GMP and from day one I brought my true authentic self to work, and I have never looked back. I now march and dance in uniform at Manchester Pride every year, the acceptance and sense of overwhelming pride is something everyone should experience. In 2015 I was promoted to Inspector and I have been the proud chair of GMPs Pride Network for over 5 years. The struggles for acceptance and equality are still there, they are getting better. I am privileged to know and work with inspirational officers and allies who have and continue to pave the way for others.
Please look for the support around you, seek out your Pride Networks they will be a great support to you and most of all be you, bring your rainbow with you wherever you are, whatever you do and shine.