11 Feb 2021 | The veterinary profession
LGBT+ History Month: introducing the BVLGBT+ role models
To celebrate LGBT+ History Month, we've teamed up with BVLGBT+ to highlight four inspiring LGBT+ role models within the veterinary community and share their stories and advice.
Dr Marisol Collins BSc BVSc MSc MRes PhD FHEA MRCVS, working in global health - She/Her
“The last 10 years have seen my vet career diversify from small animal practice into global health and infectious disease research. It’s been fantastic during this time to see LGBTQ+ representation and support networks grow within veterinary, STEM and academic communities and a privilege for me feel very much a part of these along the way.
“Overseas research work has sometimes taken me to countries where being open about identity can be difficult. This meant revisiting once familiar feelings of worry and fear about acceptance, though with the words of many BVLGBT+ role models in my mind, I have come to be open, honest and proud. My experiences have been overwhelmingly positive, with shared understanding, sensitivity and support from my global research community. I will be here as part of that community to raise, represent and promote this positive change.”
Dr Ami V Sawran BVSc CertAVP PhD MRCVS, Farm Animal Vet and Clinical Director - She/Her
“I don’t recall ever really coming out - rather just constantly challenging assumptions. My relationship status, sought in casual conversation was the only obvious indicator of my not being straight. I make a point not to swerve the subject. As a clinical director at Westpoint, and member of the clinical and farm executive boards at Vetpartners, I would hope that my easy openness with being queer will foster self-acceptance among my LGBT+ colleagues.
“Working in a sector where so called ‘traditional’ attitudes to relationships are at play, it could be easy to feel isolated. Being unapologetically who you are is the best form of education for those who do not seek to understand that LGBTQ+ people exist in agricultural spheres.”
Dr Vim Kumaratunga BVSc CertVOphthal MRCVS (RCVS Advanced Practitioner in Veterinary Ophthalmology), ECVO Resident, University of Bristol - He/Him
“You cannot be what you cannot see. BAME and LGBTQ+ role models are hugely lacking in the veterinary profession. I spent the early part of my career wondering how and where to fit in. Self-acceptance and being unapologetic for being the only person I can be are the most valuable things I could do to survive and thrive in a profession that isn’t as diverse or inclusive as it should be. I have always tried to mentor others that your gender, sexuality, the colour of your skin and your background don’t need to be barriers to achieving professional excellence. Once you realise that, a whole new world of opportunities opens up to you.”
Dr Peter Heather BVSc MRCVS, Practice Owner and Small Animal Vet - He/Him
“Place your own happiness and well-being high on your list of priorities and do your best to keep it there - it's far too important to ignore.”
Jack Pye RVN, Registered Veterinary Nurse, BVNA Council Member – He/Him
“My story of being an out veterinary nurse all stems from reading an article when I was a student veterinary nurse in practice on “Coming out in the workplace”. This was an article I closely related to at the time and it gave me the courage to openly tell my colleagues at a time when I felt I was ready. I remember the day I told my colleagues who were also close friends and still are. They all accepted me for who I am, and nothing changed, and it made the whole process such a relief.
However, it wasn’t without the odd challenge early on in my student days from some people within the veterinary industry. Some comments I had made towards me were comments that someone who wasn’t out wouldn’t ever receive. But I never let this get in the way of who I was and am still today. I think sometimes comments are often meant in a tongue in cheek way and not meant to come across in a negative way. I rarely feel offended, but many people could be which could cause anxiety in telling people in peoples future. Things have come a long way and education within the industry is growing, the awareness is building which is only going to be a positive step.
Being an ‘out’ veterinary nurse makes me proud. it makes me proud to think that others may feel they could approach me about any LGBT+ subjects that they perhaps didn’t feel they had someone to talk to or someone who understands what it’s like. Most of all I think it’s important to tell people who you are when YOU are ready and feel comfortable enough to do so.
Never feel as if you can’t live your life how you would like to live it and don’t see it as a barrier, use it as a steppingstone to inspire and support others who you can network with, you never know who is reading the positive messages you put out. One article or social media post can change someone’s day or outlook on their life for the better and make a positive difference. You are not alone."
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