“I do think that there comes a point where I should have been allowed my privacy to work out what was going on”
BY ELLA GAUCI, IMAGE BY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Layla Moran has been a powerhouse in politics since she became the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon in 2017. She has made history in Parliament throughout her time in office by being the first MP of Palestinian descent and the first publicly pansexual MP.
However, in a new interview with Attitude magazine, she talks about the impact of being forced to come out. In 2020, Layla came out on Twitter after reportedly being approached by the Mail On Sunday about her relationship with a woman. In the tweet, Layla wrote: “2020 is a new decade and a new path in my journey. Last year I fell in love with a wonderful woman. Something I’d never even considered before. Now I am just happy #Pansexual #OutAndProud”
“I was basically forced into [coming out], and I am a little bit upset about that still,” she told Attitude magazine three years on. “I feel that no one should have to be offered the experience of being outed so publicly and prematurely. It has left some scars, and it makes me quite distrustful of the Westminster bubble.”
She continued: “That’s the thing about this place: it can feel like everyone’s looking at you all the time. It’s that constant scrutiny.”
Layla has a gay brother and sister so she was never worried about being accepted at home. However, she was upset that she had been forced to share details of her personal life due to her professional environment. “I do think that there comes a point where I should have been allowed my privacy to work out what was going on,” she said.
By coming out as pansexual, Layla has provided the community with some much-needed pansexual visibility. She revealed that her own journey finding a label that fit her was not always as straightforward. “I was totally open to the idea [of not being straight]; I just didn’t know. This comes along later in life, and I’ve got these questions, and I’m forced to come up with — what is it? Because if I’m gay, like my sister and my brother, they’ve known since they were five. That wasn’t me. So, what word is that?” she told Attitude.
However, when she came across the label for pansexual online, everything clicked. “I think all love is a bit like that, actually, and that explained it to me, so I picked that,” she explained. “What I absolutely did not think through was the fact that that would make me the first [publicly pansexual MP], or that, actually, for a tranche of population, this was just a completely new random term, and that in itself would cause a conversation.”
After three years of being publicly out in Parliament, Layla is proud of the visibility she has provided for so many. “The bottom line is we turned the story around to be positive. If you’re going to talk about your private life from this seat, I should try and do it in a way that helps other people,” she said. “What was lovely is after doing it, I did get emails saying, ‘You helped me to be able to explain to my parents about me,’ and I was like, ‘That’s amazing.’ So yes, it was really painful on a personal level, but there were quite a lot of positives that came out of it.”
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