Lou is the Army LGBT Forum’s Vice Chair (Women) and serves in the Adjutant General’s Corps.
“Hi, I’m Louise Wolstenholme. I am in a Civil Partnership with Ele and we have a lovely daughter, Freya, who was born on New Years Eve 2012.
I was brought up in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, and from an early age knew that I was gay. Coming out was not an issue: I had mates who I played football with and most of my other friends were gay. Fortunately my family were of the same frame of mind – I was blessed that they have always supported me and loved me for me.
I joined the Army in 1996 knowing it was illegal to be gay, but, as being a soldier was my dream, I hid my sexuality. The law changed in 2000 and being able to be my true self at work had such a positive effect. It made me confident about who I was. Not needing to keep my private life secret or tell lies anymore was a major career advantage.
As an openly gay SNCO I understand the potential I have to influence others and I try to use this influence constructively.
Ultimately I know that being 100% authentic improves my work performance, my personal development and my confidence. I want all gay, bi, and transgender people to enjoy the same benefits. All they have to do is have the courage to be themselves.
In the long term equality will be reached if we encourage individuals to be assertive enough to challenge discriminatory behaviour and practices.