Martin Lippiatt (he/him)
I grew up in rural Suffolk after my parents moved up from the west country when I was a little boy. I had quite a sheltered upbringing to be honest and with living in a little village, as I was growing up and discovered my sexuality, I really did feel like the “Only Gay in the Village” even though I was never 100% sure of that. As I grew older and learnt to drive so I could get out and about easier, I met other gay men and made some good friends. My first gay relationship was in 2003 with a Mexican guy living here in the UK. We are still good friends to this day. I have been lucky that I have never really encountered any significant prejudice towards being gay as I grew up. I had some minor family objections due to outdated views when I came out, but by in large my family have been very supportive of me. When I met my soulmate here in Norwich and got married in 2019, it was a gay wedding that was a first for many of my friends and family and they really enjoyed it, saying it was one of the best weddings they had ever been too (that was also however partly due to my excellent wedding planner skills).
Working at the UEA
For me personally the UEA is one of the best places I have worked for. The UEA is a supportive employer with good structures in place to support all its staff. By in large they are easy to access as well if needed. With regards to the UEA Staff Pride Network, I had not really got involved with it much until recently. I have worked for the UEA since 2016 in the Estates department and due to my unsocial working hours, I did not get too involved with many things at work. However, since I changed my role to work within the Vice Chancellors Office in 2022, being in a desk-based administrator role, I have greater flexibility to get more involved. Sharon Weekly, whom I have been friends with for several years, approached me to ask about taking over the role of Chair in the Pride Network, so she could take a step back. I agreed to this being a Co-Chair alongside Paulo Pepe and so far, I am enjoying being part of it. I look forward to attending some of the socials going forward and meeting new colleagues.
I feel happy that by and large our community here in the UK is in a good place, greater equality is growing, however there is still a long way to go for everyone to be equal regardless. I regularly attend Norwich Pride and have for several years attended London Pride as well. I may not always want to show my sexuality out loud on a daily basis, but I am never ashamed of it and at events like Pride I will always champion the cause and be part of the day, out and proud. I hope that by being part of the UEA Staff Pride Network I can continue to positively represent our community and strive to improve our working environment for all of us.