Mark Bacon, Chief Operating Officer
Q. What is it like “coming out” as an LGBT person?
I sometimes think that it’s too simplistic to think about it as a single defining moment. At least that was my experience. I just remember lots of different times over the last 30 years where I’ve felt it important to be open about my sexuality in order for people to know and understand me better. So I’ve been coming out for more than 30 years and will continue to do so. I’d never pressurise anyone into any particular approach to coming out: everyone needs to find their way.
Q. Why do you think it’s important to have out and visible LGBT people in the University?
From the perspective of the senior leadership role I hold at Keele I want to be out and visible to provide reassurance to all staff and students that the senior team is made up of a diverse group of people, with differing lived-experiences. It’s well understood that more diverse teams are more successful than less diverse teams – so being inclusive isn’t just about the unquestionable value of inclusivity – its critical to success!
Q. What advice would you give to other LGBT staff or students who may be facing difficulties as a result of their sexuality?
As a student, early career academic and professional service leader, universities have provided me with the most supportive of environments I could have wished for – for well over 30 years. The services and support available are, in my view, unrivalled and I’d encourage staff and students who think they need support to not hesitate and reach out. That might include joining the staff or student LGBT group, accessing professional counselling advice and guidance, or simply talking with close colleagues and friends. I’ve done all of those things during my career and I imagine I will continue to do so in the future.
Q. What can we all do to make Keele a better place for LGBT staff and students?
We do all need to think about times when our language, behaviours and assumptions can be driven by our unconscious biases. While this is a world-away from homophobic abuse and bullying, small micro-aggressions have made me feel as though my sexuality, and the way in which I lead my life is being questioned as ‘not the norm’. I hope that my lived experience helps me have a little insight into challenges faced by people with other protected characteristics. I also recognise I have and need to work on managing the influence of my own unconscious biases.