WO2 Dougie Graham is currently serving at the Housing Allocations Service Centre for HQ 51 Bde. WO2 Graham has had a long career with the Black Watch. He is also a father, and general ‘man of the world’.
ArmyLGBT: Dougie, you’ve had an extensive Army career. Care to run us through it?
Dougie: I joined the 1st Battalion the Black Watch in March 1980 and was posted to Werl, West Germany for 5 years. On returning to the UK I had several postings and promotions. In all I worked in Edinburgh, West Berlin, Ternhill, Hong Kong, Northern Ireland and Warminster before returning to my Battalion as a CSM. For the final two years of service I was posted to the TA. Whilst I was with the TA I applied for the Long Service List which permitted me to take over the Recruitment Office in Galashiels. Then it was off to Bovington as an Instructor at the Army School of Recruiting. In all I have completed 26 years and 52 days’ Regular Service attaining the rank of WO2 – an extensive and colourful career!
ArmyLGBT: As well as a colourful career, you have had an equally colourful personal life. How did you come out, and what was the reaction of those around you?
Dougie: My personal life has been very turbulent and I have struggled with my sexuality since I was about 14 years of age. I have fought with my mind since then trying to find the real Dougie Graham and I have found him now. I thought getting married would be the answer but it just created more trouble. Whilst struggling with my sexuality I was Court Martialled (twice) and spent some time in the Army Military Corrective Training Centre Colchester. All this without ever being able to explain to people what was going on in my mind.
During my 22 years of marriage I had 2 children. It was my family who outed me. They found me using gay social network sites, and I soon had a letter from a solicitor asking me to leave the house. I made a promise to myself there and then that I wouldn’t lie about my sexuality if asked, and I have had no negative or homophobic reaction. Now I have made myself visible so that others can see the benefits of being authentic, and the troubles associated with living a lie.
ArmyLGBT: You do work for Gay Dads Scotland. What does that entail?
Dougie: I found Gay Dads Scotland in a gay magazine called Scots Gay. I contacted them as I was really struggling with losing contact with my son and daughter. We are a volunteer-run group for gay dads. We hold a monthly support group and gay dads from all over Scotland meet to discuss their situation and provide mutual support. Most of us are in, or have been in, marriages with children and we understand the feelings of isolation, stress and guilt. It is possible to work through with happy outcomes. We discuss many topics including coming out to our children, how to handle children’s reactions to the news and how to cope with adverse reactions from our kids. We also provide relevant advice and support to agencies who work with gay parents, and to raise awareness of gay parenting issues.
ArmyLGBT: There is an ever-increasing Army presence in Scotland. What do you hope to bring to the LGBT Forum in your role as Scotland Rep?
Dougie: I would like to be looked on as a positive role model. Service personnel in Scotland should know that there is someone they can turn to if they require advice or assistance provided confidentiality. I am in a position to support and guide along with all other agencies involved in welfare, equality and diversity. I know how hard it is to serve being in the closet and I will always respect an individual’s decision to stay there. However, I also want them to know that there is support to help them come out, when they’re ready.