Former builder is now known as Samantha after coming out at Wigan care home fancy dress party
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Wigan's Samantha Wolsey, 68, spent her life presenting as male, but came out to staff at the Belong care village in Platt Bridge, after their approach made her feel comfortable presenting as who she is.
Samantha moved into one of Belong Wigan's independent living apartments five years ago, presenting as ‘Billy'.
However she has only now felt finally comfortable to share who she is with the world.
Having grown up in a largely conservative Britain, prior to homosexuality being decriminalised in 1967, as a young boy, Samantha's father took her to a psychologist for conversion therapy treatment.
This involved her being tied to a bed with straps to administer electric shocks to her body. In adulthood and working as a builder, she continued to present as male, not quite finding the courage to present as she wanted to.
She recalled: "I would dress in clothes designed for women in private but never in public - the first time everyone saw the real me was at Belong Wigan.
"I was on the way to a fancy dress party and joined everyone in the garden for a pre-party drink. We were all laughing and joking about me wearing a dress and something in me felt ready to tell them, ‘This is me'. So, I did."
A celebratory party was held to bring everyone together to commend Samantha's courage and share in her happy news.
Charlene Frodsham, experience coordinator at Belong Wigan, said: "When she told us, we were surprised but everyone was keen to support. At her party, Samantha said with tears in her eyes, ‘I didn't expect all this'. We couldn't be prouder of her and we hope her story inspires others to show the world who they are."
This weekend (June 24) marks the UK's inaugural Silver Rainbows Pride - a national day dedicated to celebrating older LGBTQ+ people.
Dementia specialist Belong Wigan is implementing the Skills for Care LGBTQ+ learning framework, equipping its teams with the knowledge, values and best practice to support its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and other customers.