A chance meeting with a drag queen proved a pivotal moment in Mike Williams’ life.
“When I was a kid, I knew I was different. I wasn’t exposed to the queer community much, so I didn’t know other people who I could talk to. Sometimes I felt quite alone in that,” he said.
But one sweltering summer’s day when he was a university student Mike attended an LGBTQI+ festival with friends. “I met a drag queen for the first time in my life. She was wearing a big wig and an outlandish gown with more sequins than I’d ever seen,” Mike said.
Mike recalls chatting with the drag queen, who was a friend of a friend.
“This person was larger than life and so unashamedly themselves.
It’s not that I want to express myself through drag, but that I saw someone who knew who they were. She was just so upfront about saying ‘This is who I am. Take it or leave it.’
“I thought if she can do that, then any part of me that I’m still unsure about, I’ll be OK.”
Mike came out as gay in his early 20s and did several different jobs after leaving university. “In some workplaces I held parts of myself back. Nothing was said against people from different backgrounds, at least not publicly, but there was nothing said in support of them either. I was left feeling that I might not be supported,” he said.
“Whereas some of my employers – and NAB by far the most – have been actively supportive of people from diverse backgrounds, and shown us that we should be ourselves and celebrate that,” he said.
While Mike counts himself pretty lucky on his own journey as a gay man, some of Mike’s LGBTQI+ friends have not been so fortunate. “That’s triggered my help switch,” Mike said.
“I want everyone to know it’s not just OK to be yourself, it’s vital,” Mike said.
“Many people will discover when they come out that they are supported. But it’s not always the case, so that’s why it’s really important people know they are not alone and even if people do not get the support from their family that they need, there are people and places out there that will support them.”
Mike has worked at NAB for nearly eight years and is now a home loan product consultant at UBank, a division of NAB. He is also on the NAB Pride National Committee, NAB’s employee resource group for LGBTQI+ employees and allies.
As a person who enjoys helping others, he also balances these roles with work as a volunteer firefighter. He’s also a donor dad to a little boy who is being raised by two mums.
This Sunday, February 6, Mike and many of his NAB colleagues from NAB Pride will be taking part in the Midsumma Pride March in St Kilda. NAB has been a principal partner of Midsumma nine years running.
The march is open to everyone, and is part of the Midsumma Festival, Melbourne’s celebration of LGBTI culture.
For more information about the Pride March and Midsummer visit here.
Find out more about how NAB supports inclusion and diversity at work here.