Rene le Juge de Segrais talks about her experience as a bisexual women with Louise Sinnerton from LGBT+ network, myGwork
Rene le Juge de Segrais says that she doesn’t have a “significant coming out story” and has tended to share that she’s bisexual with people on a need-to-know basis over the years.
After growing up in South Africa, she now lives in London where she works as a second level support analyst at Willis Towers Watson.
“In South Africa it was never an open subject in schools and it took a very long time for me to realise what I was and accept it myself.
“My dad was also not a supporter, but my mom was a bit more open – at least after my parents’ divorce, when she was no longer a Jehovah’s Witness.”
At 19, with Rene living in Cape Town with her mom, was the first time she had a girlfriend – at first hidden – but then she progressively started opening up and didn’t want to have any secrets.
Rene doesn’t remember anyone being against it, she says “it just was” and had a similar experience when she shared with her friends.
Rene jokes about when she told her old school friends she was bi, “the experimental kissing girlfriends when we were younger probably tipped them off.”
Years on and all of Rene’s friends know she’s bi. She says that everyone has accepted her as she is. She told her husband shortly after them and he has been supportive ever since – the only person she never opened up to was her father.
When she later told her father that she was engaged to a man, he told her he had thought she was a lesbian.
“I remember the laughter in his voice as he said it but to me, it felt good to know that he still loved and supported me anyway, even though he suspected.”
Despite the support of her family, Rene has experienced homophobia and describes being insulted when she was younger.
“Some communities in South Africa can be rather closed minded but mostly only with their words and I have luckily never had to endure any physical harassment. Gay men are unfortunately not as lucky there.”
She has also said that she’s experienced a few uncomfortable situations from within the LGBTQI community itself.
“Strangely enough, I’ve had some disdain from lesbian woman – because of my dual nature, I’m seen as a ‘vacation lesbian.’
“It was not easy dating women in the UK for me. Granted, my lesbian friend has admitted herself that she would never ‘go for a bi woman.’”
Despite some of the animosity Rene may have experienced, and whoever that might have come from, she emphasizes how things have improved internationally.
She says that there will probably always be some people who might harbour unwarranted biases but insists that we should all be, “open minded and tolerant, not only to the people that are the same and see things in the same way as you do but to those who oppose you.
“We should let those whose minds we cannot change be, as you want them to let you be.”
At work, Rene is open about who she is and is encouraged by the events, networks, and actions of the company.
Willis Tower Watson are working towards closing the gender pay gap and Rene says it is the first company that she has worked for that encourages everyone to be open and facilitates regular networking and LGBTQI awareness campaigns.
She marched with them at Pride for the first time last year and tells me that inclusion and diversity awareness seminars are becoming part of employee objectives.
The last comments she makes are encouragements to others who identify as bi:
“Bi women married to men should not be scared to be open about who they are.
“Sometimes we can be scared we might lose our straight friends. We tend not to come out because we don’t necessarily ‘need’ to. We shouldn’t feel we have to say we are straight or say we are a lesbian, just because we are dating someone of the same or opposite sex.
“We tend to go with whichever label corresponds to the relationship we are in – but that’s not accurate, that’s not who we are.”
Willis Towers Watson is a partner of myGwork, the LGBT+ Business community
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