Mount Pleasant Multi-Skilled Operator Niki has faced life’s challenges head-on and is now helping others feel comfortable to be their authentic selves.
In the lead up to Wear it Purple Day on Friday 27 August, Niki shared with us the power of having respectful conversations, treating others with respect and being proud of who you are.
I was made to feel a sense of shame about my sexual orientation and cared a lot about what certain family members thought of me. I reached a turning point and realised I wasn’t living my life fully. I was missing out by doing what I thought was expected of me.
I realised the problem wasn’t me. I thought I’m ok with being who I am and that’s it. I moved to Sydney and started surrounding myself with people from the LGBTIQA+ community and felt better about being who I was. It was in those moments of progress I grew as a person and what I feel helped me to allow the right people in. My partner who I got to marry this year is one of those people I am most thankful for.
I’m out and proud and want to help others by sharing my story and supporting and listening to their stories so they feel heard. I’ve found that talking to someone who’s been through something similar certainly makes you feel less alone.
Why Wear it Purple Day matters
For me, Wear it Purple Day is about allowing people to express their true selves by showcasing who they are in different ways. It’s a platform providing a voice for the LGBTIQA+ community to share our personal stories and start a conversation about our experiences, both good and bad.
The day is about awareness and provides a chance for each of us to show our support and get an important message out there that everyone matters.
At Mount Pleasant, we’re proud of our site’s diversity and everyone feels included. I’ve always felt safe to be me and part of this is because we have visible Allies.
When I see the purple truck on the circuit or someone wearing a rainbow lanyard, I feel accepted and supported. It’s like the sun in winter when it hits you on the back, you feel safe and warm.
Everyone’s life story is different, they may be wearing the rainbow to show support for a family member or friend, or simply show that they’re a safe person to talk to. Whatever the reason, it makes a difference.
Starting respectful conversations
Conversations are extremely important. It’s through learning more about the community that you learn what’s acceptable and what’s not. It’s ok not to know everything but by learning about pronouns and using inclusive language you can change the course of a conversation.
The more people talk about sexuality and gender identity, the further it reduces the stigma behind it. These conversations also empower you to stand up and speak up in those moments when someone makes a hurtful or uneducated comment.
Often, I find that these comments come from a lack of understanding about the community and the impact of their remarks. In those moments, don’t respond with offensive language or embarrass them, but I do get them to think more about what they’ve said.
I’m proud of who I am at work and amongst my family and friends and I hope this shows others that it’s ok to be you!