Meet the LGBT spies who say the spectre of homophobia is gone from MI6
Britain’s real-life James Bonds have praised MI6 for its “welcoming” approach to gay and lesbian secret agents.
You wouldn’t know it from 007’s hyper-violent, super-macho, always deadly approach to spying, but the real-life secret service is reportedly extremely LGBT-friendly.
The Secret Intelligence Service celebrated the event at its headquarters in Vauxhall.
The British Diplomatic Service officially barred gay men and lesbians until 1991, with many staff members going to great lengths to conceal their sexuality.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, a spy who gave their name as Daniel said he initially worried about joining a service which used to ban gay recruits for fear they could be blackmailed.
“I wanted to do something for the country but I admit that when I went to apply I was hovering over the submit button thinking: ‘I’m gay, how far am I going to get with this?’” he said.
But rather than make him feel hated or like an outsider, Daniel was made to feel more accepted than he ever had before.
He recalled that “when I went through the selection they were much more interested in my skills.
“On my first day I was very nervous – I’d had some bad experiences in previous jobs with homophobic bullying.
“But as I started to come out I realised people were supportive here.”
With nothing standing in his way, Daniel was able to display his true self, and has carried on doing so for the past three years.
“I came out more in the first three weeks here than the rest of my life,” he said.
“I can’t think of any job I have had where I have felt so welcomed.”
Claire, a lesbian MI6 officer, also spoke out in an attempt to highlight the opportunities available for potential LGBT recruits.
This, in turn, would provide MI6 with the best and brightest available, Claire explained.
The spy, who has conducted operations at home and abroad over the last 25 years, said she had seen the secret service’s progress with her own eyes.
“Things have changed in the past 25 years and particularly in the last 10 years we have really embraced diversity.
“I came out within the organisation. People were very supportive.”
She added that encouraging more LGBT spies to join had helped to broaden MI6’s outlook, which could only benefit the secret service.
“We can also bring different perspectives and opinions,” she said.
“Encouraging diversity can help to avoid groupthink.”