“What does your husband do?”

“Alex, what does your husband do?”…Awkward!

Those of you who know me, know.

Those of you who don’t, when I am at a business networking event and I’m asked “What does your husband do?” it is so awkward. You see I don’t have a husband, I actually have a wife!

Every year when June arrives, my news feed is laden with Pride flags. This year the Pride flags are mixed with stories and comments about Covid-19, lockdown, Black Lives Matter, football starting again, exciting adventures to parks and families meeting in their gardens. Because there is so much going on, I mean what is 2020 playing at please!! I’m taking this opportunity to bring it back to Pride for a moment.

You hear about people’s “coming out” stories all the time, but what some don’t realise that in our community you probably have to “come out” most weeks. I feel I’ve been in and out of the closet since I started networking more than this new shirt I have at home that I’m adamant will fit, but it never does, so back in the wardrobe it goes within seconds.

The nerves about how someone will react still give me pangs of anxiety, and I will be honest, I’ve given up “coming out”. It’s sometimes easier to leave those who don’t really know me thinking that my wife Jo is my husband Joe!

It’d be half the battle if you could guarantee the conversation thereafter would be normal, especially in business. Often it’s not and awkward private questions follow. Once when I “outed” myself the other person turned away sheepishly which was really awkward, kind of wish I had that small shirt on to avoid them trying to converse with me in the first place that day. Those instances are so few and far between these days, we have come so far.

I know the questions those have outside of the LGBT+ community are innocent (especially around “family planning”). They’re not meant to do any harm, it’s novel and intriguing to people. One thing I struggle with is: why are the answers to these questions more important than what I do, how I do it, what clients I work well with and what new business I am looking for?

Truth is, they aren’t, and business is business. My private life does not say whether I’m better for a job than my competitors, so perhaps keeping the private stuff private is the best way forward. So to avoid being asked some uncomfortable very private questions, I rightly or wrongly prefer to rarely answer the question correctly.

We don’t know people’s personal lives, battles, and struggles. In business networking, where we are reminded daily to not talk about politics and religion to avoid segregating people, perhaps it’s worth us thinking a little beyond this. The women who can’t or don’t want children asked when they’re going to have kids, the man who spent his early years in the wrong body asked what it was like to change sex, the girl who holds down a pizza delivery job at weekends on top of running a business to help pay her own bills constantly called boring for not attending those late night events. Being mindful is more about being conscious of the other person.

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So this month is Pride Month and for me, Pride includes much more than the LGBT+ community. It is a celebration of life, of equality, and a reminder that there is a long way to go, but we are getting there. I’m excited to see how society looks when my boys are my age (even if that means I’ll be way old).

Let’s all be mindful about asking those personal questions, and to those of you who didn’t know before reading this article…now you know too.

Happy Pride to you all.

Stay safe, stay alert and please keep at least 2 metres away from me   ️‍ ️‍

Alex Gregory-Chialton

Alex Gregory-Chialton

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