At the age of 26, Sam Fry attended his first Pride.
Immersed in the event’s noise, energy, music and (quite literally) every colour in the rainbow, Sam revelled and romped. On his t-shirt, splashed liberally with the characteristically kaleidoscopic hues of Pride, was a humorous – yet heartfelt – slogan.
‘Being straight was my phase’.
“Attending my first Pride felt so amazing. Just to be among people who are like me, and to celebrate that – it was eye-opening. It showed me that there’s nothing wrong with the way you are; with who you are. I felt so comfortable.
“From that day on, I said to myself that I’m not going to stop being me. I’m proud of who I am, and nothing – or no one – is going to take that from me”.
His pride is, after all, something people have been trying to take from Sam his whole life. Like many openly gay men, Sam has faced alienation and abuse throughout much of his teenage and adult life – simply for being himself.
“Throughout school – and even up until my mid- to late-20s – I suffered prejudice. I think it comes from people’s lack of comprehension. To this day, you come across those who still don’t get what makes someone gay – like it’s something you choose. Many can’t understand what it’s truly like to be gay or bi, because all they can see is their straight life – and that’s ‘the normal’. But what’s normal?
“You’re not different for being gay. But you’re made to feel different because you’re gay. You’re made to feel like it’s wrong and that shouldn’t be the case.”
Sam works for ellenor as part of its Clinical Admin Team (CAT).
Swapping the glittery garb of Pride for the (admittedly, equally vibrant) neon orange of ellenor, Sam – as bubbly and outgoing professionally as he is personally – is a Clinical Admin Assistant. That means he helps process the referrals that come through, and – alongside colleagues Nicole, Dawn and Megan handles phone calls from patients and relatives.
Asked his thoughts at being the only man in a largely female team, Sam’s eyes light up.
“I’m far more comfortable around women,” he responds, “– always have been. Not that I’m a player, of course! Being a gay man around women, I just find I can be myself a lot more.”
But the team’s gender majority isn’t the only reason Sam feels so ‘at home’ at work. It’s the inclusive, accepting atmosphere ellenor cultivates – and that Sam himself feeds into.
“There’s no judgement here. Since I started, I’ve been so comfortable that I can just be myself – without having to hide anything away. We spend more of our lives at work than we do almost anywhere else. You’re here for eight hours a day, five days a week. If you can’t feel comfortable at work, well…where can you?
“Everyone here is kind and friendly. You can be yourself, without having to worry what someone’s saying behind your back. The way people are here – the way you’re treated and greeted – you just kind of open up and feel accepted, not judged. There’s no need to even tell people you’re gay, because you’re comfortable enough, and they know.