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17th August 2017
I'm Nathanael, most people call me Nat, some Nate, but I also respond to 'oi' regularly.
I am transgender and bisexual.
So why did I join FLAGS?
I joined FLAGS the moment I turned 18 and it wasn't just because some of my best friends were part of the Unit. Everything the Unit exists for, the values they hold and the aims they have was what I felt Scouting should be or at least aim to be, and so why wouldn't I put my name down for it?!
I have been in Scouting for nearly 10 years now and in that time I, with the help and support of my peers and leaders, began to discover my own sexuality and later, my gender identity. The differing experience I had between adult leaders was shocking, some would be so affirming and supportive, but as a young person I experienced both homophobia and transphobia within Scouting. This experience was damaging but it has motivated me to do something about it. I know just how valuable adult training is and through the support of FLAGS I gained the confidence to apply for and be appointed as ACC Inclusion and Diversity in my local area. In this role I plan to manage a county ASU dedicated to supporting and advising on matters of I&D as well as looking to improve adult training in this area.
Outside of Scouting I am training for Church Ministry and studying theology, this is a very different ball game! FLAGS have embraced my Christian faith and I regularly have conversations with other members about how my gender identity and faith interact and how I can be both trans and Christian. If you're interested in how this works for me you can check out my blog at https://transformingtheologynate.wordpress.com/ or follow me on twitter at @trans_anglican.
FLAGS have helped me navigate my way through the Scouting world and given me the confidence required to use my own experiences to improve the organisation on both a local and national level. But also, outside of Scouting, FLAGS have supported me to pursue the passion I have for theology and the Church - something I didn't expect when I signed up.
11th July 2017
I have just had the most amazing weekend with a bunch of beautiful people.
I was attending Gilwell 24 with my ESU, but in the end it was only my daughter who could go and then last week she discovered that she could attend Pride which left me at Gilwell all alone. I wondered if FLAGS were going to be a bit short handed in the Rainbow Café so I offered to help out. My offer was accepted so at 08.30 Saturday morning I joined in with the prep for the day and that is where I stayed pretty much all day until about 00.30 on Sunday morning. Bearing in mind I hadn't actually met any of these folks before Saturday I really was made so very welcome and felt at ease straight away so thank you all for being so lovely. The cafe was busy all day; it was great to meet so many Explorers buying mocktails as well as some of the Leaders but the best part of it was spending the day with the FLAGS folks, you all made it so much fun and I am really looking forward to doing it again at the next G24.
10th July 2017
I attended Gilwell 24 on the weekend for my first ever time and it’s safe to say that I’ll be there next year.
The activities offered are amazing and the atmosphere is insane but there’s another reason as to why Giwell 24 shall be seeing my face again next year, and it’s because of the people I met. I went to the FLAGS Scout Active Support Unit's Rainbow Café just to see what was going on and because it seemed like a really chilled out, fun place to be.
However, in no way did I think that over 11 hours later I would still be there, dancing non-stop to some cheesy (but great) tunes… but I was. I believe I now know all the words to the YMCA after dancing to it 5 times. The staff who were at the Rainbow Café were always up for a laugh and really made that place as special as it was. If being there 11 hours later wasn’t a big enough shock for me then the realisation that I came to definitely was. Dancing non-stop and being surrounded by people just like me gave me the opportunity to be my true self. 100% me. A chance I don’t get in normal day-to-day life. I had a chance where I could let loose and be free and it was this chance that led me to the realisation of my sexuality.
We live in a heteronormative society where it is assumed that boys will be with girls and girls will be with boys but as we all know, it isn’t like that. Yes, some people are straight but some people are gay or bisexual or pansexual… the list goes on. Being surrounded by mostly accepting people in day-to-day life I thought that I was being myself… but I wasn’t. Yes, I am able to be the guy that I know I am as everyone had accepted me as transgender but being focused on my gender identity, I had not taken any notice into who I was attracted to and the rainbow café gave me chance to focus on that. I didn’t have to constantly worry about passing as male and I didn’t have to constantly worry in case my voice was slightly too high because I was in a safe environment.
“I’m gay! Wow, wait, what?" Yes, that thought popped into my head multiple times whilst dancing non-stop but as it was such a shock I tried to push it away, I tried not to focus on it and I tried not to think about it but you cannot push away who you are. You can’t be someone else and you can’t change who you are. If you can’t change it, embrace it. Eventually I left the Rainbow Café to head to the closing ceremony for Gilwell 24 and then the event was over but Gilwell 24 2017 will always be a special memory to me because meeting everyone at the rainbow café and talking about what it’s like being an LGBTQIA+ young person in today’s society enabled me to accept myself as gay. I now can’t imagine how my life would be if I hadn’t met FLAGS at Gilwell 24. After less than 72 hours my life has been changed for the better and I am not confused at all. My identity has never seemed clearer than now and it’s all down to FLAGS and the support they’ve given me.
I released a coming out video on my Youtube channel the morning after Gilwell 24 and did not expect as big of a response as it got. I was so worried about not being understood and not being accepted but everyone has been the complete opposite and the support received has made me speechless for once in my life.
Thank you FLAGS, keep up the amazing work and I can’t wait to join you in 2 years. Until then #KeepDancing !