LEO WHYTE IS THE AUTHOR OF TWO BOOKS, “RELIVING THE PAST TO RELEASE THE PRESENT – TRAUMATIC MEMORIES AND LETTERS TO MY YOUNGER SELF” AND “LIFE SATISFACTION – A SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO ACHIEVING HEALTH, HAPPINESS AND HARMONY” RELEASED. IN AN EXCLUSIVE, CANDID INTERVIEW, J.ALLAN LONGSHADOW SPOKE TO LEO ABOUT THE INCREDIBLE STORY BEHIND THESE TITLES. HERE IS THE THIRD PART.
J.Allan Longshadow: I feel that “Reliving the Past to Release the Present would make an extremely valuable educational tool. It is about understanding just how dark things can be for everybody. We’re all different, we’re all individual, we all have our dark moments in the past don’t we, some darker than others. Your book takes you back to your younger days as an openly gay man in rural Scotland. I would like to think that attitudes have changed a lot since then – do you feel they have? And do you feel that there is still a way to go?
Leo Whyte: I’d love to say that we were on the other side of the journey and that there was not a problem for LGBTQ youth these days. From my perception, it seems to be a lot better than when I went through school. Simple things like Section 28 no longer existing. Gay marriage is possible now, it wasn’t possible then. The age of consent has equalised in Scotland. So legally, in terms of a framework to exist, we’re allowed to now and we are able to and protected. I think there is always going to be a degree of prejudice, just through fear and misunderstanding, but I do see a lot more acceptance now in younger people than I saw, at least publicly. It’s a little bit more cool to be accepting than it used to be and I hope as well that we start to see more general acceptance and compassion towards others through highlighting of things like the black lives matter campaign and things like that. I think black lives matter and the racial discussion we’re having as a society right now is crucial and very important – and I hope that it also spreads to a larger conversation about prejudice of any kind.
J.A.L: I think this is so important right now as we move forward, in light of what we have seen happening not just over the last six months or the last few weeks, but going back hundreds of years – we’re talking about a massive change, and again, it’s all about acceptance and forgiveness and saying we’re not going to live that life anymore – something we need to adopt as a global society don’t we, and really stand up for that?
L.W: Absolutely and I think it’s on every individual to stand up for it in all conversations and in all societies. I’m a firm believer that saying nothing is as bad as being prejudiced – standing by and watching prejudice happen is as bad as doing it yourself. We all have a personal responsibility to speak up, particularly when it comes to youth. There are a lot of vulnerable youths of various types out there – I was one of them – and I’ve had many people come to me after reading the book who were there at the time and have said to me how devastated they were, that they hadn’t maybe realised the full extent of what I’d gone through but also that they were ashamed to say that they hadn’t thought to stand up to it.
J.A.L: It’s very easy to turn a blind eye, isn’t it, in society. It’s very easy to make it not your problem. But these kinds of issues, they are everybody’s problem.
L.W: Totally, and I think that’s the way that we should be looking at this. It’s not just about being a good ally, it’s about standing up for what’s right – in my opinion anyway – true equality for all. And compassion, acceptance and understanding.
J.A.L: I think it comes down to integrity, doesn’t it? There’s a wonderful definition of integrity which is doing the right thing even if nobody is watching. You’re not doing it for the praise, you’re not doing it to get attention or respect, you’re doing it because it is the right thing to do and I think that’s so important.
L.W: I totally agree. Another phrase I love for these situations is “nothing changes if nothing changes”. We can’t just carry on and say yes, OK, we’re not going to allow racism to happen anymore; well that’s great, but we have to change something to make sure that that happens, so it’s about positive change as well, and not just change for change’s sake. It’s about making the right kind of change that will help people.
J.A.L: We’ve certainly started this new decade in quite spectacular fashion. I’d love to see, come towards the end of this decade, how far we can move beyond where we are right now. Because I think we are at a pivotal time in social development really arent we?
L.W: I hope so. Certainly, all signs are good and strangely, I think that the coronavirus pandemic has given people more time to reflect and maybe that means that they may be facing up to some internal battles that they’ve been avoiding. It may also bring new perspective on what they want their lives to be like and how they want their society to look. I truly hope that this is the positive outcome that comes from the horrific deaths and suffering that Covid has caused. Hopefully, the light in that darkness is a positive societal change.
Listen to the interview here:
Both titles are available in paperback and electronic format from Wednesday 1st of June.
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