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  • Writer's pictureLuke Dowding

To See Paris

Nine years ago, at around about this time of year, I started a permanent position on reception for a media agency in Fitzrovia. I can remember the first day I turned up to temp in August, bloody terrified and thrilled in equal measure. I was fresh out of theological college and pretty much just fresh "out". After crashing at friends' houses and trying commuting from Sussex for a month (that's all I managed), I moved in with one of my best friends and started a whole new chapter.

Skip forward eighteen months or so, and I'd moved off of reception and had started supporting the admin work of teams and senior individuals within the company; soon after this I met the chap who, little did I know, would become my boss for the next seven years.

Working with this guy as first his shared Assistant, then his EA at another company, and finally in recent years his Chief of Staff across multiple business and markets, has been one heck of a ride. I've travelled internationally, learnt how and I like to work (and how I don't), had to deal with AWOL clients and missing flights, sat through the reading out of a (LONG) contract in German for a company acquisition, met some brilliant people and some bloody terrible ones too, enjoyed some amazing lunches and dinners, experienced the Cannes Lions, made some mistakes, and had some pretty stellar successes. It has been quite the ride.

And so, it feels darn weird to have secured my replacement after giving my notice in March (thanks Covid). The "new me" starts next week, and I can finally close the ten inboxes for good at the end of October.

Since completing my formal training for Christian ministry in 2011, it has been made clear to me time and time again that my sexuality (and latterly my marriage) serves as an unnavigable barrier to all kinds of roles that I am qualified for and would be willing to serve in, both in the UK and abroad. However, I've not stopped - and whilst my understanding and experience of ministry, church, and even God has evolved these last nine years, I have continued to juggle jobs and unpaid positions to push for justice wherever I can.

It has felt recently like I have been approaching a forked path, where it would be necessary to pick a route and commit to it - as working seven days a week does have a use-by date, it seems. I will continue to work part-time as the Executive Director of OneBodyOneFaith, and will spend more time and effort on the other aspects of my social justice projects that often had to be sidelined for the job "that pays the bills".

I'm looking forward to writing some more, to continue being a thorn in the side of those who would tell me and other LGBTQ+ people of faith that we're second-class citizens in the eyes of God and Her church, and to giving my time fully to the people I'm with - without sneaking a glance at emails or taking a hasty call.

Please forgive this gratuitously long post all about me, but it felt like the easiest way to update those of you who might be interested.

To paraphrase Nigel from The Devil Wears Prada:

"For the first time in eight years I'm going to be able to call the shots in my own life. I'm going to be able to come to Paris, and actually see Paris."

(Expect plenty more DWP references in the weeks to come).


Snapped at Le Train Bleu, Gare de Lyon - January 2020


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