In early August, EN asked Media 10 show manager Anthony Goodey for a slightly different kind of column, here was his answer…
Being asked by EN to write a piece on whether the exhibition industry is a welcoming line of work for the LGBT community has made me really think.
Ask me to write about budgets, or about the amount of content vs. exhibitors in a show and I could waffle on for hours. Ask me how to negotiate, or how to get a two-metre wide glitter ball delivered to site within the hour and I would know the man to call (thank you Ideal Christmas drama), but this is deep…
The honest fact is, that from my point of view, I’ve never even thought about it – which in itself is quite interesting. I’ve never experienced a negative reaction or been made to feel uncomfortable for being in a same sex relationship, nor do I think it ever gets considered when I go about my work.
Being gay doesn’t make me any more or less capable of doing my job, and I would hope that that general perception would be shared across the industry – no matter whether you’re an organiser, contractor or whatever part you play in producing your own amazing events.
I have been very lucky at Media 10 – the core management and director team couldn’t care less about sexual orientation or preference, if you can do the job then it really doesn’t come into it. How could a company with so much vibrancy and diversity not welcome people that are diverse? I am surrounded by a team of talented, like-minded, open-minded people. We care about our projects and have developed strong friendships across the years; after all, I spend more time with them than I do with the family!
So, let’s get deep for a second. Up and until fairly recently I was openly gay in my work life, but not in my personal life. Being onsite and working away allowed me to be myself, the people that I surrounded myself with at work in a way coached me into accepting myself – and showed me that it was okay to think, act, and be, me.
It got to a stage where I would opt into projects just to spend more time away from home – and feel the freedom that came with working in such an open environment. I enjoy being onsite, and when I would return back to reality I would spend two to three days decommissioning myself back into my ‘normal’ box. It’s a hard thing, watching what you say, not joking in a certain way and not being able to share the stories of sheer hilarity from your exhibition life in fear that you would ‘slip up’.
Don’t get me wrong – I come from a very large, loving family and I actively chose not to say anything to them until I met someone worth mentioning. Luckily for me that happened recently, unsurprisingly whilst I was at work! Meeting him was the best thing to come out of my career to date – and has since forced me to address my work life balance.
It was the openness and diverse people in the industry that made it okay for me to be me, and I hadn’t experienced in that before my previous line of work. Media 10 and the industry took me away from my comfort zone – and put me in a position of complete freedom.
Work or home, I don’t personally feel the need to constantly tell people that I’m in a same sex relationship – I don’t fly the flag and celebrate as I don’t think it really needs to be celebrated. It shouldn’t be a thing to announce, it should just be accepted as ‘normal’, because, what is normal anyway?
I really hope that everyone in the industry has had the same experience, and would hope that a job title or employer would not alter the outcome. I guess I am thinking of a hammer wielding contractor – would that ‘man’s world’ stop you from being yourself or feeling accepted? I hope not.
Being gay is not an important part of my work. I don’t fly that flag, but the industry and my work showed me it was okay to be yourself. After all, love is love.
See, deep right? Next time Exhibition News, can we talk about budgets and stuff?