Richard Milburn

Rural Chartered Surveyor

I didn’t want to be gay in Louth and in any case I didn’t even think it was an option.

I grew up in a small market town in rural Lincolnshire. When I started to realise I might be gay I flitted between two ideas of how my life would pan out; either this would be a phase, and I would settle down with a wife and kids, or I would move away to a big city disappear into a gay scene of London or Manchester.

During my teenage years I realised that this wasn’t a phase and thought that university would start my journey to coming out. I moved to Leicester University with high hopes. I didn’t settle into city life and was disappointed when I didn’t find a gay community waiting for me to join. I spent a lot of my university weekends and holidays back in the town I thought I needed to escape and I then realised that what I needed was the support of my friends and family to come out.

Coming out was an overwhelmingly positive experience and when I reflect back I only wish I had done it sooner. After university I had to choose my career; I decided to undertake a post graduate degree in property and building surveying. Closeted me would have been too scared to go down this path worried it would be to masculine or that my sexuality would be questioned on building sites, but I found I had a new confidence from being my authentic self.

After this I worked for a few years at Gelder, a Lincoln based builders, before moving to Savills and becoming a qualified surveyor. I am fortunate that my company has an LBGT group which I joined so I could network with gay people at other offices. I have always felt fully supported in the office to talk openly about my relationships. Many companies are starting to recognise the advantages of having a diverse work force. It helps better reflect the customers, stakeholders and businesses we work with. I also think being gay gives me a different perspective at work. I have never wanted to be an alpha male and this has allowed me to learn and grow in my career. I am not afraid of asking lots of questions for fear of looking weak; I never feel the need to pretend that I know it all.

I feel it important to share my story so that other young LGBTQ+ people, living in the countryside, understand that you don’t have to move miles from where you grew up to be happy. You can get a job which you are passionate about, make gay mates and date the same sex while still living in a rural area.

I project manage building maintenance works on rural estates in and around the community I grew up in which has allowed me to keep close ties to my family and friends who’s support I will always rely on.

I did have to go back to Leicester to find a boyfriend though, I have been with Pete two years, hopefully one day I’ll get him to move back to my home patch of Lincolnshire.

Matthew NaylorRichard Milburn