Blog | Proud to be a UK Scout
Pippa Byrom, 20, isn’t defined by her sexuality...
I joined the Scouts when I was 14, about a year after I'd come out as bisexual to my friends and others at school. It would be fair to say that while my coming out experience at school was not the worst one, it wasn't the best either...
While my friends were supportive, a lot of the other students didn't really understand the concept of bisexuality; I was accused of being greedy or confused, or just using it as an excuse to be sexually promiscuous. I felt judged for something I couldn't control or change.
Then one of my friends from school took me along to Scouts. Despite their support, I was wary of telling anyone else, partly because I didn't feel like it was relevant, and partly because I didn't want to have to face more questioning (or hear more whispers behind my back). However, once I'd settled into Scouting I realised that my sexuality wouldn't be a problem.
Words of support
When I was 16, a new leader called Mia started helping at my Explorer Unit. Shortly afterwards there was a camp; on the Saturday evening I was chatting to her by the campfire and I told her about being bisexual. I'd never directly admitted this to a leader before and I wasn't quite sure what her reaction would be. Mia asked me a few questions about it but in a polite, respectful way, which was not something I was accustomed too.
She then said something that she probably hasn't even thought about since but which has stuck with me ever since. She told me that she thought I was really brave for being so open about it. She also said that she didn't see me any differently than she had before. This was the first time anyone had said that to me and just hearing those particular words of support made me feel so much better and more confident about my sexuality.
‘My sexuality does not define me’
My time with the Scouts has not been defined by my sexuality, because my sexuality does not define me. Scouting was and is about so much more than that.
I am aware that Scouting in the UK is much more accepting of different groups in society than some Scout associations around the world. As one of my parents is American, I am disappointed that Scouting in the US is not as open and welcoming to adult members of the LGBT-plus community as the UK Scout Movement is.
I don't see how ostracising someone from parts of society for something they cannot control can be acceptable. I feel so lucky to be part of such an inclusive Scout Movement as the UK Scouts.
If you have a story to tell like Pippa, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.