In a moving video posted online, Nick Hewlett, the headmaster of an elite South London School, St Dunstan’s College in Catford, came out to his students as a “happily married gay man”. This is believed to be the first time a member of school faculty has come out to students in this manner.
The release of the video to the student body of around 700 pupils, coincided with the start of St Dunstan’s College LGBTQ+ Week, which coincides with LGBT History Month in the United Kingdom. Hewlett began his address with a story about a young boy who had attended the school some 75 years ago, who would later become a teacher and return to lead religious studies at the school and serve as the college’s chaplain.
As Hewlett continued to tell the story, students learnt that this teacher who was described by Hewlett as being “by all accounts a remarkable man,” was outed as a homosexual in 1981 by the then editor of satirical magazine Private Eye Richard Ingrams. Despite the society’s views of homosexuality in the 1980s, Hewlett described how students rallied around the teacher because they loved him so much, and showed “enormous humanity, respect, and dignity.”
Hewlett went on to add that, “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 is thought to be making history by being the first headmaster in the United Kingdom to make such a bold statement on acceptance within an educational setting in this manner. He said that he was inspired to do so after overhearing a student at the school admit to how happy he was that he was openly gay.
In an interview with Sky News, Hewlett said “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.”
Hewlett concluded his video to students with three final 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.”