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Ian Faulkner’s journey: Advocating for LGBTQ+ equality at eBay and beyond

In partnership with myGwork

By Dylan Mann-Hazell

Smiling man in a white shirt
Ian Faulkner (Image: Provided)

From his formative years in an Irish Catholic family to his impactful role in the LGBTQ+ community and professional endeavors, Ian Faulkner from eBay reflects on his profound journey of advocacy for equality.

Growing up in an Irish Catholic family with traditional values, Ian came out as gay at the age of 17. Despite initial challenges, given the societal context of being LGBTQ+ in 90s Ireland, he was fortunate to have a supportive family who quickly embraced him during this pivotal moment. Reflecting on his past, Ian noted that he never felt any internal struggle about his sexuality, even amidst relationships with girls during school and college. The process of navigating his identity seemed to unfold naturally , with a strong support system in place to guide him along the way.

Connecting through music

Towards the end of his university experience, Ian felt the need to connect with more queer friends. This, combined with his passion for music, led him to join and later lead Gloria, Dublin’s LGBTQ+ choir for several years. Currently serving as deputy accompanist for the Pink Singers in London, Ian has been deeply involved with the choir since his move to London.

One remarkable project that stands out was a partnership with a choir in Mumbai – Rainbow Voices. At the time, they were the only LGBTQ+ choir in India as homosexuality was still a criminal offence. Back in 2017, in a show of solidarity, members of the Pink Singers travelled to India for a joint concert to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ rights in India, and to march in the Queer Azaadi March to support the repeal of discriminatory legislation.

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalised homosexuality, with a version of the same law which existed in the UK until 1967. It remains in the penal codes in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Navigating representation and inclusivity

Ian joined eBay during a UK expansion, when the customer service centre was established in Dublin, and has since enjoyed a dedicated 20-year career with the company.

His interest in cars has guided him towards his current role in the Vehicle Parts and Accessories team. Although he feels fortunate to work in a sector he is passionate about, Ian also recognises the need for wider representation within the vehicle parts industry. He describes the importance of challenging traditional beliefs and being visible as a gay man without conforming to stereotypes.

“I’ve always felt that working in the parts industry, it’s sometimes easier to get into straight-washing yourself rather than challenging beliefs and representing as a gay man,” reflects Ian. “I’m conscious that that is something that I personally need to be better at.”

Despite a desire to represent himself more confidently, eBay has been an affirming business to work for. Ian was able to confidently address uncomfortable situations, including instances of homophobia or discrimination, with support from both his manager and the broader organisational structure.

Promoting LGBTQ+ awareness at eBay

Ian speaks proudly about the efforts made within his workplace to inspire an inclusive Pride community. He has been actively involved in initiatives promoting LGBTQ+ awareness , particularly through the company’s LGBTQ+ network, United in Pride. Demonstrating their support, eBay facilitated a charity donation to bring some members of Mumbai’s Rainbow Voices to London, offering them a glimpse into LGBTQ+ life in the city as part of the joint project with the Pink Singers. Through the many opportunities at eBay, Ian and his colleagues aim to educate on issues relevant to the LGBTQ+ community, both locally and globally. Notable awareness day events such as IDAHOBLIT are key highlights, with emphasis on the annual pride celebration.

Embracing diversity and challenging labels

Expressing his thoughts on the evolving landscape of gender identity awareness, Ian reflects on an experience he had in Norway. Recounting a gathering with a diverse group of people, Ian realised that many of them (notably younger than himself at 46) identified with various aspects of the LGBTQ+ spectrum outside traditional labels. He saw it as a glimpse into the future of what the community can and will look like.

“There was a bisexual drag king who didn’t necessarily identify with any gender identity that was thrown at them. And there was somebody else who said sometimes they might be bisexual, or they may be asexual, and people were saying ‘you must be this label’. And they’re saying, ‘No, I’m just who I am, I don’t have to be a label’. And that really resonated with me.” Inspired by these encounters, Ian highlights the importance of increasing awareness around gender diversity, including the significance of different Pride flags as symbols of self-expression. Despite his own familiarity with LGBTQ+ culture, Ian wishes to further educate himself on the growing diversity within the community, highlighting the important role of introducing these concepts to others.

eBay’s commitment to inclusivity

Reflecting on society’s continual transformation, Ian appreciates eBay’s keen evolution towards acceptance and support for LGBTQ+ people. From the strides taken in promoting inclusivity, to the introduction of policies that cater to the diverse needs of employees, Ian views these initiatives as indicative of the company’s progressive outlook and ongoing commitment to inclusivity.

While eBay serves as a model in supporting the LGBTQ+ community, Ian emphasizes that there is still a wide gap between symbolic gestures and meaningful legal reforms worldwide, particularly in support of transgender people. He advocates for swift and resolute action to bridge this divide, ensuring that such inclusivity and safety extend beyond eBay and become a universal reality.

“There’s a lot of talk about trans awareness and how people can be supportive, but then from a legislative perspective, legislation needs to not only keep up, but be the change – very quickly.”

eBay is a proud partner of myGwork, the LGBTQ+ business community. Find out more about job opportunities at myGwork.