Blog | My journey coming out
Russell is a Scout leader and organiser at Birmingham Pride. He shares his experience of coming out as a teenager, finding FLAGS and Birmingham Pride’s success.
When I was growing up I joined Beavers and went through to Cubs and Scouts. When I was about 7 years-old I joined a local marching band as part of Scouting, which I loved and still do to this day. It’s through Scouting and being a part of the band that I was able to make some really close friends. When you're coming out you need that. I came out when I was 17 and back then it was not totally socially acceptable to do so. I enjoyed having a group of people around me, close friends who I got to spend week after week with, going on camps with them, taking part in activities, as it helps you develop a connection. It’s really powerful to be able trust and rely on people. When you’re coming out there’s always that doubt in the back of your mind - are people going to accept me? But that didn’t matter to my Scouting friends.
I got involved in FLAGS, the National Scout Active Support Unit supporting LGBT adults in Scouting, about three years ago now. I found a local Scout group where I was accepted and felt like it was right for me to come out. When I found out about FLAGS my first impression was wow, there's a Scout Unit that supports gay people in Scouting and it's absolutely fine. I've been involved in Scouting since I was 7 and I never thought that there would be a unit that will support me and actively support the recruitment, inclusion and retention within Scouting, I got involved with them and it's one of the best things I've ever done.
I got involved in Birmingham Pride in 2013 and started off with eight volunteers and one sign; we thought we would try it and see what it is like. When people saw us they were astonished as if to say, 'Scouts? Really?'
Then I thought that I could do something more with this as it is my local community. Eventually I asked the FLAGS manager if I could take it on board and become the event organiser. Last year we had 25 people get involved, we had banners and we did a Pride breakfast, which was brilliant. We were mentioned in the local paper and TV as well. This year we're expecting about 45 volunteers, it's just going from strength to strength with the support from the local Scout communities.
The point is to get the message out there to the local and LGBT community that Scouting is open to everybody!
If you have a story to tell like Russell, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Show your support and get involved with Pride 2015 by visiting the FLAGS website for upcoming events. #scoutpride.