I knew from as young as 10 years old that I was different. Different because I couldn’t understand why I was fixated with one particular, much older woman.
It wasn’t until I was around 16 years old that I felt that way again, this time with a friend, a female friend. I wasn’t a lesbian though, that’s what I kept telling myself.
In the early 90’s, I joined the British Army. By now I had become quite comfortable with the fact I was different. However, being gay at that time was illegal in the armed forces, so I learned very quickly how to hide my sexuality. I became very good at it. I used the non-gender specific term “they” about everyone, without even thinking about it. I was able to hide my sexuality from my family by not going home on leave very often. I come from a big family in a small community in the Outer Hebrides.
I was home on leave on one occasion, the weekend of Eurovision, April 1993, with my “friend” from the Army. She had come home on leave with me and we were having a great time catching up with my old friends and family.
Unfortunately, my mum decided to look through my kit bag while we were out. In the kit bag was a letter from my “friend” which detailed our relationship, and on our return, my mum was sitting on the floor in the living room, with a cigarette in her hand, pointing at my “friend” and telling her to get out! I asked what was going on and she produced the letter and said, “you are disgusting”. I knew at that point life as I knew it had changed forever. She also announced she was going to tell the Army about us and that I was no longer welcome in Scotland. I decided not to stay and left, not to return for several years.
A few months after this I was posted to Hong Kong. I had met someone else by this point and was quietly getting on with my life and career. In January 1994, I was having a working lunch with the Royal Hong Kong Police and noticed a man and a woman in suits, talking to my boss at the door to the restaurant. They were looking over towards me.
I was asked to come to the door and they introduced themselves as Special Investigation Branch (SIB) of the Royal Military Police. I knew from this point, my life would change forever, again.
After being arrested, I endured eight hours of interrogation and my Army career was over. I was ‘escorted’ back to the UK and discharged on the grounds of “Sexual Conduct of an unnatural kind”. I never did find out if my mum was the person who started this chain of events.
This experience shaped my life. I decided there and then that I would never hide my sexuality, I would actively fight discrimination and was part of the movement which saw the change in the law allowing LGBT people to serve their country in the armed forces without fear.
I joined Kent Police in 1997 and was part of the original LGBT police support group which was the beginning of big changes for the better in policing.
Today, I am back living in the Outer Hebrides, with my wife of 12 years, our cat, three dogs, two pet lambs and seven hens. We are totally accepted as a couple by my family and all our friends here. My mum now has advanced stages of Multiple Sclerosis and is in a nursing home. I am the only person who cares for her now, giving up my policing career to do so after 18 years’ service.
All these experiences have made me who I am today and I couldn’t be happier.
Janice is pictured (left) with her wife Michelle in the main image.