Nick Hewlett, the headmaster of St Dunstan’s College in Catford, south London, came out to his students as gay on Monday in a pre-recorded video ahead of the school’s LGBTQ+ week. Hewlett is the first headmaster of a school in the UK to come out to students in such a way.
Hewlett told the story of a boy named Martin Preston who attended the school 75 years ago. Preston became a teacher and returned to St. Dunstans to lead the religious studies department and serve as the college’s chaplain.
“He was by all accounts a remarkable man,” said Hewlett, and had “great impact” on the students. He was also openly gay, said Hewlett, and was outed by the editor of Private Eye magazine in 1981. Students rallied around the teacher because they loved him so much, and showed “enormous humanity, respect, and dignity.”
Hewlett used the story to intro his own coming out to his students, “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.”
Hewlett 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 had three more points:”Remember that it’s okay not to know who you are just yet. … 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.”
Watch Hewlett’s full address:
Hewlett spoke to Sky News before the announcement: “I suddenly thought about my own situation and my own identity, and I thought, hang on a minute, this is ridiculous. Here I am, a happily married gay man, and alright some students might know this, but the vast majority probably don’t, why wouldn’t I share it with them, why wouldn’t I be open about that? I felt strongly it could well help some students.”