Who am I….?
“So, what are you?”
“When did you start being gay?”
“I thought you liked men?”
“Are you gay?”
Let’s just stop here.
First and foremost, in answering who I am, I am Claire Francis.
I have worked in early years as a practitioner for 10 years, developing a huge passion for early years as this time has passed. I have a partner, children and pets with whom I live, in a small town in Wiltshire. Two years ago, I decided to take the plunge as a thirty-something-year-old to embark on an exciting but equally terrifying journey of academic proportions. I enrolled on the Foundation Degree in Early Years. For some, this may not have been that big of a deal, for me however it was. I had previously made this decision in my life before, however, I never got as far as enrolling, why?
Unfortunately, 4 days before Christmas I had the experience of entering a hospital appointment, being sat down and given my diagnosis of cervical cancer. This moment and the experiences that followed changed my life and helped to define who I am now. The impact was both positive and negative. I was left with lifelong changes to my health, both physically and emotionally and was now infertile. Emotionally, following my treatment I developed PTSD which over time has led to social anxiety and panic disorder.
So why have I discussed these parts of my life?
Because they have a role in determining who I am. They affect my daily life, influencing decisions and help provide the drive and passion for wanting to make a difference in young children’s lives, whilst at the same time hold me back from achieving or even attempting to achieve new goals in my life.
My sexuality I feel does not do this to such a great extent. How I identify within the LGBTQIA+ community does not determine my ability to nurture and teach the children in my care. Yes, it influences my life to a certain degree, just not as significantly as other experiences or characteristics of me in my life.
Just to clarify, I am bisexual. It’s not a term I use often as I do not like to feel I have to ‘declare’ this aspect of my life. Not because I am ashamed or want to ‘hide’ it, but because I don’t feel that for someone who doesn’t know this small part of the jigsaw that is me, it changes anything if they were then to know. I understand and respect that this is not everyone’s opinion. Many people are happy to share and celebrate these aspects of their lives with others, and that is fine, that is their decision. Everyone has a right to happiness, love and acceptance. Everyone is different in some way; no two people are the same and that should be okay. It should be remembered and respected that not everyone wants to openly disclose these parts of their life, not everyone can; discrimination and hate still occur daily for whatever reason. Unfortunately, I know that for a small minority of people, knowing I am bisexual would change their view of me. Individuals are bullied, attacked and murdered, just because they, their family or someone they love or care for is ‘different’. This is not okay. This is why change needs to happen.
Living in a society without having to justify our differences or live in fear of repercussion. This could be a reality one day if we all start making changes now. Even small changes, slowly over time make a difference. Big changes will not happen overnight, it would be naïve to think otherwise. But to start making positive changes in early years practice of not only being inclusive and welcoming to all families but by also making LGBTQIA+ families and individuals a ‘normal’ part of young children’s lives, then maybe we will be helping to create a fairer, equal and accepting society for the future.