A British headmaster in Catford, South London has come out to his student body, parents, and faculty in a brave and inspiring video.
Nick Hewlett is the headmaster of St. Dunstan’s College, which was founded in 1888 and has a $25,000-a-year tuition. Ahead of an online assembly on Monday, Hewlett told the Sunday Times of London that he planned to come out as gay. The publication suspected that this is the first time that a U.K. principal has come out in front of his students and staff.
And what caused Hewlett to come to this decision? He says it was one of his students who courageously talked about his own sexual identity.
“I was so blown away by the courage of him that something flipped in my head,” he told the Sunday Times of London. “I thought then of my own situation and thought: ‘This is ridiculous.’ Here I am as a happily married gay man, and the children do not know that at school.”
He then added, “There will be kids who are struggling with their own sexuality and who would benefit from knowing that you can be happy and gay, and I have a privileged position to show them that. I felt that I owed it to the pupils to be open and courageous too. I am inspired by them.”
Then, according to Towleroad, followed through on his plan in the meeting earlier today. He started by telling the story of a man named Martin Preston, who attended the school 75 years ago. Preston became a teacher and later returned to the school to lead the religious studies department and serve as the school’s chaplain.
“He was by all accounts a remarkable man,” said Hewlett before sharing that Preston was also gay. Then, Preston was outed by the editor of Private Eye magazine in 1981. The students, however, rallied behind the religious teacher and showed “enormous humanity, respect, and dignity.” Hewlett then segued into coming out.
“This school has moved on to such an extent that I as the headmaster can be comfortable to share with you today that I am happily gay and in a same-sex relationship,” he announced.
He then told students, “Have the courage to be true to yourself and allow others to be true to themselves also. Keep an open mind as to your identity and the identity of others. I think it’s very easy to think that society compels us to adopt one type of identity or another …. but that’s not good. It’s not good for anyone to pigeonhole people into a certain way of being, a certain way of thinking.”
Hewlett then left students with the following sentiments.
”Remember that it’s okay not to know who you are just yet,” he said. “Sexual identity should never ever be seen as a barrier to success or happiness, in fact it should be reversed. It should unlock success and happiness. … Remember that we should not take our inclusive and liberal values for granted. Societies and cultures can change very quickly.”
Thank you, Nick Hewlett, for leading by example.