It’s LGBT+ History Month and we talked to BCP Councillor David Kelsey about his life

Photo of Dave Kelsey

February is LGBT+ History Month.

It’s a chance to provide education and insight into the issues that the LGBT+ community faces, and an opportunity to look back at the history of the LGBT+ movement and to promote equality and diversity.

In line with our commitment to promoting an inclusive community, BCP Council now has a Lead Member for Equalities, Cllr Bobbie Dove.

Cllr Dove said: “LGBT+ History Month celebrates LGBT+ people in all their diversity, raises awareness, and combats prejudice with education. To make a real difference we are working to ensure that equalities and tackling inequality is a part of everything we do.”

 

As part of LGBT+ History Month, BCP Councillor David Kelsey agreed to talk about his life.

As a gay man he says growing up he didn’t have a role model - here are Dave's own words:

I’m Dave Kelsey, a 60 year-old gay man.

Someone asked me who was my gay role model - well I thought about it and realised that as I was growing up I didn’t have what I called a role model.

I am from a family of eleven and grew up in Portsmouth. My father was a waste of space so I had no role model there - only someone who I was sure I didn’t want to be like. I always knew I was different from the other boys at school. At the age of 16, I joined the Army - something I had always wanted to do. It was then that I began realising that I was in a job where I could not be who I was, so I started to hide my sexuality.

I married at the age of 18 and had a son. I found it harder and harder to live this double life. I was court martialed for being gay and spent six months in a military jail just for being who I am. I was good enough to fight for Queen and country but only if I was straight; at least that has now changed. On leaving the Army, I divorced from my wife because I could not deal with the double life and felt it wasn’t fair on her, I have not seen my son to this day.

I moved to Bournemouth in 1982 where I ended up working as a doorman in a nightclub. I then went on to help set up the local Aids helpline at the start of that awful time. I tried to join the Police but once again even after being given a police commendation for rescuing a woman from a building I was once again rejected because I was gay.

After a while I set up my own gay nightclub and ran it for many years, making many friends along the way and hopefully helping many of the people I met. They came to the club to be able to be themselves and I would like to think that maybe some of them saw me as a role model for them to go forward.

I left the nightclub world in 2007 when I stood for election as a local councillor which I am still doing now, but my roots are still with the gay community of this great town. I have walked at the front of the Pride parade every year and I am proud to do so.

At the time of being court martialed I thought my life was done but being a stubborn person (I am a Leo!) I decided that being gay was not going to stop me being the best I could and was not going to ruin me.

I have made the most of the chances handed to me and I hope that anyone struggling to come to terms with being gay can do the same.

 

A recent announcement means Dave's Army service medal, which was taken from him after discovery of his sexuality, can be reclaimed.

 

Locally, the LGB&T Dorset Equality Network, a voluntary-sector community organisation and registered charity offers support run by and for Dorset Bournemouth & Poole Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans communities. Find out more on their website: https://lgbtdorsetequality.network/

 

 

Posted on Wednesday 17 February 2021