I would like to hope that I have always been honest about my sexuality, especially when asked directly, but a long time ago, I decided it was easier to not ‘promote’ to everyone, the fact I am gay. In all honesty, I have found that very few people ever asked me to my face, and my take had always been that I never thought there was a reason for people to ‘have a need’ to know, so unless I had a reason to tell them, the topic rarely came up.
After all, what difference should it make? I am still me, gay or straight, how people see that and how they treat me should be no different either way. Now I know, even if they haven’t actually asked me, many people who know me have made the assumption (that I am gay), but many have not, and many probably don’t mind one way or the other. That said, for a minority out there, the whole ‘gay’ thing, remains an issue.
This is why, after more than 30 years (yes really!), I have realised I need to change my approach, be more open and (as you may have noticed if you follow my facebook and twitter pages recently) actively speak about it, and support all things ‘inclusion’ related, including, and specifically, LGBT issues.
Thanks in part to one of my current roles in Scouting and the positive changes that #Scouting4All is bringing to the organisation, I have come to realise that my personal stance was no longer line with the advice I would now give to any of the young people who are already in, or might like to join Scouting today.
I can hardly be an advocate for inclusive Scouting, promoting youth involvement and giving young people the opportunity to speak out about what they want Scouting to be like, if I am not prepared to stand up and be counted myself. I need to let them know they are not alone, that they have friends, family, support and that they have a right to live freely, be who they want to be and do what they want to do, without fear of bullying, hatred, ridicule, injustice and prejudice, whoever they are. And, that Scouting is a safe environment for them to do that.
I find it encouraging that attitudes, both here in the UK and globally, about how much (or how little) someone’s sexual orientation matters, is (slowly) changing for the better. Everyone has a right to be themselves, to be accepted for who they are no matter what; their sexuality should be of no concern to anyone else.
I live in hope that one day we won’t feel the need to label people as one thing or another or there be a need for them to ‘come out’ as being ‘different’ in any way – we are all different, that’s what makes us who we are. I guess this is what I’ve always hoped for and is part of the ethos I have tried to follow all my life; no giving people labels or names & treat everyone as an individual, giving them the respect you would like to be given in return.
In writing this I realised, this is something my old scout leader taught me back then, ‘a long time ago’. He ‘knew’ I was gay, he asked me, and then he supported me and was always there to listen. I guess some things have always been there in Scouting, as #Scouting4All, all be it under another name, was always a part of his agenda just like it should be for all scout leaders today.
… thanks for listening…
…that’s me, stood up, counted and PROUD to be ME!
submitted by....... Marc Wiseman