Lucinda Caton-Tanner

PRIDE: 7 years of me!

Posted: 27th June, 2022

This month, in celebration of PRIDE, we are giving space to LGBT+ voices from across the BIAZA membership. The PRIDE blogs will provide a snapshot of the experiences of LGBT+ people working in the zoo sector and highlight diversity across the animal kingdom too.

I’ve always been a firm believer that people evolve throughout their life, learning about themselves and working on the person they want to be. When meeting new people and experiencing new things, I believe these are our opportunities to learn and see things from a new perspective, as long as we are open to a new way of thinking.


Whilst growing up I had always been around the same people, in the same place and surrounded by the same opinions and although none of my life has been bad, for a lot of it I just didn’t feel like me. I felt different, I just didn’t know how or why. It never entered my mind that the reasons behind these feelings were due to my sexuality. All of this changed around 7 years ago, when I moved away to study at university. This was a completely new environment where I was surrounded by so many different people, all of whom allowed me to be myself and accepted me for who I was. It gave me the chance to explore and discover new things about myself without the fear of worrying what others may think. Although this may sound like it was an easy journey, it definitely had its challenges. For a time, coming backwards and forwards for university I felt as though I was living two separate lives. One life; where I was open and proud to be gay and another where I would hide my sexuality for fear of disappointing my family and friends.


It was at this time I started a seasonal guest services job at Peak Wildlife Park. For anyone starting a new job there are always those thoughts that enter your head; will they like me? Will I be successful? Will I fit in? At Peak I experienced only acceptance destroying these fears immediately. I was truly accepted as me, inclusive of my sexuality and although at the beginning I didn’t openly admit this to my team, I very quickly learnt that they didn’t care I was gay, they only cared that I was happy and comfortable. It was this that empowered me to be open not only with my colleagues but also my friends and family as I knew I had the support of so many people. I will always be thankful to every single member of the team at Peak as without their support I may have never had the confidence to be open and proud of my sexuality.


At Peak Wildlife Park I have always been given opportunities to grow into new roles, I have worked as café supervisor, registrar and now operational assistant and duty manager. All of these promotions I have earned by my determination and work performance, showing me that Peak value me for what I do rather than who I am. At the same time they have never made me feel as though I need to hide who I am, in fact they do the complete opposite. My colleagues have always amazed me with not only how supportive they are but the side of wanting to hear about my story and experiences, learning the importance of acceptance and how simply listening or asking questions can make someone feel accepted.


Although I would not change any part of my journey, a little advice for little me wouldn’t go a miss - ‘be more open to learn and listen to people’s perspective but don’t let them overwhelm your own”


Whilst writing this piece it has allowed me to reflect on the past 7 years and although I find myself overwhelmed with happiness that I have been so fortunate; it saddens me to think that many people haven’t been as lucky as me. It is for that reason I wanted to share my story to show people that its ok to be you and to also highlight to everyone that although you may not be part of the LGBQT+ community, everyone has a part to play in tackling the issues. Just by you listening to someone's story today can make a huge impact for the future of a lot of people.


By Lucinda Caton-Tanner, Operational Assistant, Peak Wildlife Park

All blogs reflect the views of their author and are not a reflection of BIAZA's positions. 

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