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Vote - Sergeant Guy Lowe-Barrow (Positive Role Model Award - LGBT)
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Sergeant (Sgt) Guy Lowe-Barrow spent the majority of his youth in St. Vincent and the Grenadines where he completed his primary and secondary education. Growing up he was always aware of his ‘otherness’ and came to recognise that he was gay. He pays tribute to his English teacher Mrs Andrea Bowman who mentored and assisted him with having the strength to come to terms with his sexuality.
His coming out involved a heated ‘discussion’ with his father who told him that “he wished he had kerosene and matches’ to set him on fire”. He subsequently came out to his mother who was supportive. In the 1996 Guy met Godfrey Sealey, noted Caribbean Gay Rights and HIV activist and was instantly inspired to become the first representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to CFLAG in 1997 (A fledgling Caribbean group based on gender identity and the need for fight HIV). He then returned back to St. Vincent and met with the Chief Medical Officer to discuss concerns the LGBT community had with regards to HIV testing and confidentiality on the island.
While in St. Vincent he served as an executive member of the youth arm of the New Democratic Party, constituency council and was voted in as a member of the Central National Executive Committee of the NDP. Having witnessed another gay person brutally beaten and feeling helpless to help he resolved to again leave the island.
Enlisting into the Army 17 years ago, after his initial selection in Kingstown, St. Vincent and the became one of the first cohort of individuals to be recruited by the British Army directly from the islands, during the early part of the last decade. Completing Soldier basic training he went on to complete his trade training to become a Military Chef.
His primary role is a Production NCO, with responsibility for the day to day administration of a working military kitchen and its culinary output. Whilst serving in London with the Welsh Guards Guy was part of the team that implement the PAYD (Pay as You Dine) system to the Battalion and helped to tailor the offer to the respective Messes. His responsibilities included the SHEF (Safety Health Equipment and Fire) representative and the Equipment Care (EC) manager. It was also at this time he became a member of the Army’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Forum as the Gay men’s representative. In 2012 Guy headed up the one of the catering teams for the military contingent of volunteers at the London Olympics – an honour to his regiment and corps.
2013 saw Sgt Guy Lowe-Barrow take up the role of Secretary of the Army LGBT Forum, 2016 Guy assisted in the formation of the Army Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) network. He was also the service lead for the London Pride March and MOD LGBT Quad Conference. He also organised the first community engagement venture at the UK Black Pride and has continued to spear head this on an annual basis.
Sgt Guy Lowe-Barrow went on to serve with other front-line Army units and was instrumental in introducing an interactive Diversity & Inclusion lesson after noticing that people were not completely engaging. The presentation allowed for interaction from the participants and allowed the ability for a more frank discussion to be had on issues of Diversity, Inclusion and Equality. This was seen to enhance the visibility of diversity within these units.
Currently, Sgt Guy Lowe-Barrow is serving as an Instructor at The Food Service Wing, part of the Defence College of Policing, Logistics and Administration (DCLPA) in Winchester, training future military chefs. Again he has stepped up to become the unit’s lead Diversity & Inclusion advisor. It is through this role that he facilitates a BAME focused evening for students and staff. During his exemplary career he has completed several Operational Tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as exercising all over the world.
Sgt Guy Lowe-Barrow acknowledges that there have been challenges in his career some professional others not. ‘There have been and continue to be moments where I’ve just wanted to give up but then I remembered that in phase two training a female Company Sergeant Major on hearing that I was being targeted and that I was on the verge of asking to discharge told me of her friends and past colleagues who sacrificed (were kicked out and fought) so much for me to have my opportunities’. She set out a marker by which I would come back to time and time again as a reminder of the sacrifices made by others in order for me to be able to serve as an openly gay man. In so doing she became my ‘north star’ and another reason why I passionate about part of the army network and the work that I do. She became his first military role model.
‘I decided to become part of the Army LGBT forum after witnessing the first soldiers marching in uniform in London pride march. I was still not comfortable being that out to the world but decided that I wanted to be there. It struck me that there weren’t any LGBT Soldiers of Colour and that we were under represented in almost all aspect of LGBT Life. I got involved with the Army LGBT Forum and became the Gay/Men’s Rep. After a time the vacancy of the Secretary position came up and I went for it. It has been an absolute privilege to serve and make a contribution the Diversity not just as a solider but as a soldier from the commonwealth. I also had the privileged to be one of the founding members of the Army BAME network and now hold the position as the secretary of the network.
Sgt Guy Lowe-Barrow has recently appeared alongside Commander Field Army, Lt Gen Patrick Sanders in the Stonewall Come out for LGBT campaign.