Adam Kastein joined the Armed Forces in 2006 and is currently a Sergeant working in the Intake and Assessment Team as an Army Welfare Worker.
He spoke to us about his experience of coming out whilst in the Army and the importance of LGBT History Month.
Adam has been in the Army 11 years and has completed tours of Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. On joining the Army in 2006 he knew he was gay, but hadn’t come out.
“I was aware I was gay when I joined the Army but I didn't come out for about six years,” explained Adam.
“That's because of the way that people perceive gay men to be - the visibility of gay men is typically more flamboyant characters you see on television and it doesn't quite fit in with how you are expected to be as a soldier.
“When I came out it was a daunting experience but straight away I knew I had the support of all my friends. Everyone in the Welsh Guards was supportive – it’s a very family-orientated regiment. I was supported throughout and it was really encouraging.
People stood by me
“People recognise when you are going through hard times. With things like PTSD, people do suffer as a result of harsh experiences, and it’s part of being in the Army to support people.
“So when someone does come out as gay, people automatically recognise that they might be having a hard time and instinctively offer support.”
Breaking down barriers
Adam is now part of the Army LGBT Forum and believes it plays a key role in breaking down barriers and providing support.
“I'm part of the regional role models team for the London district. That breaks down the barriers to ensure people are supported and if anyone needs advice there is a team there specifically for that,” said Adam.
“As a role model you're really putting yourself up there and telling people how you've been supported and that it is ok to be gay, and that visibility of someone in the Army saying that makes a difference.
For me it's about breaking down the perception of what gay people are
"When I came out there were lot of people who said they thought that all people who were gay would be flamboyant. It's a big misconception that people have.”
“People do hold back on who they are when they are in the closet and gay because they feel scared. I was scared of people actually knowing I was gay so I may have done certain things to make out I was a bit more masculine, manly and rough around the edges than I actually was. I'm more myself now, I'm not afraid to be myself.”
LGBT History Month
LGBT History Month runs throughout February, and Adam believes it can play a key role in people’s understanding.
“I think viewing history as a means of understanding where we've come from, how far we've moved, and where we should be going now is important,” he said.
“There is a massive amount of work that has already been done by people who have already served and sacrificed a lot to make that happen.
“Now, instead of people fearing being ostracized, it's a fear about how people will view them and how they are supposed to act and fit into the military environment."