Queensland police officers who identify as LGBTI have shared their stories of coming out and acceptance in a powerful video.
Titled “It Gets Better”, the 10-minute video features around a dozen male and female officers from across the state discussing their sexuality, their experiences of coming out, and their experiences being an LGBTI person in the Queensland Police Service (QPS).
It was launched on Friday at an event in Queen’s Park in Brisbane celebrating Wear It Purple Day, a national day to raise awareness about the need to eliminate bullying based on sexuality and gender diversity.
Senior Constable Ben Bjarnesen (pictured) from Fortitude Valley station is the coordinator of the QPS’ LGBTI Support Network and said he and his colleagues wanted to send a message to young people that it’s okay to be who they are.
“We’ve launched [the video] in conjunction with Wear It Purple Day, which is about promoting good mental health among LGBTI youth and urging them to reach out if they need help,” Bjarnesen said.
“Like all of the officers, everyone’s had their own struggles, and we just wanted to show we’ve all been through the same struggles and are living proof that it does get better.”
Among the officers to take part in the video is Superintendent David Tucker, who describes the emotional moment at age 40 that he came out as gay to his children.
Constable Michelle Harris also speaks in the video of the years she struggled with her sexuality, before things finally got better for her.
“I started to be more comfortable within myself and also with the concept that your sexual orientation and gender identity don’t define you,” she said.
“I am a proud lesbian woman, but that alone doesn’t define who I am.”
Another officer, Senior Constable Vanessa Mann, said: “I love my job and I’m out and proud at work. There’s no part of my life that needs to be hidden.”
On Friday, the Queensland Ambulance Service also got behind Wear It Purple Day, sharing photos of paramedics wearing purple wristbands to social media.
“The Queensland Ambulance Service proudly embraces diversity, rejects bullying and harassment and believes in creating a working environment where every young person can thrive regardless of their sex, sexuality or gender identity,” QAS said.
If you need someone to talk to, help is always available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Watch the full video below: