Calum McSwiggan – No apology needed

Alex Mitchell

Political observer and current affairs addict. Northumbria University graduate. Opinionated, my aim is to fuel debate. My favourite questions in life are Why? How? And What? My Favourite answers tend to start with It depends or Yes & No.

Youtube vlogger Calum McSwiggan did something incredibly brave in his latest video. He admitted that when he was 19 he took part, alongside two friends, in webcam porn – a secret that had been ‘weighing him down’. His secret out, Calum apologised – not that he needed to.

Firstly: please stop for a moment. Don’t go searching for his videos. Instead watch his incredibly strong and powerful video below giving the background in his own words.

First things first: I wish to address this to you, Calum. There is no need for an apology. None! In fact it is those that have used your past against you, those that have tried to blackmail you, that should be deeply sorry. They should hang their heads in shame.

I can’t praise you highly enough for not only facing your past, but taking control of it. Though you describe it as something that comes to haunt you every day, from a time you would rather forget, you openly admit that it has helped shaped you, and you should never apologise for who you are. Never!

This is as much a reflection on society as it is you. The fact that you were sacked based on your sexuality is deplorable. It is something I too have faced. You are right, when something like that happens you are scared it will happen again.

I tried to hide it in my next job (it only lasted three months!). Every time I start a new job it is in the back of my mind. You dealt with it in a different way.

As for the change in perception – well, to be honest, I hadn’t heard of you before this, yet I wish I had. You may think, ‘What a great first impression to give.’ But I don’t think negatively of you. I am impressed with your courage and your openness. You are now free from such a heavy secret and I for one wish you well.

To those of us sending pictures and videos online: heed Calum’s warning. You don’t have to be doing a webcam show to be in a similar position. Let’s sit and think for a moment.

Many of us will have Grindr or snapchat on our phones. Many of us will have been asked for a ‘dick pic’. Many will have received them, some may have even sent them. Strangers asking for intimate photos? For me, if I’m asked for or receive these pictures, that’s where the conversation stops. It’s not for me.

In short: know your boundaries, stick to them, and be sure that whatever you do is entirely your own decision.

There are websites filled with these leaked photos and videos. The people who share them aren’t necessarily just bitter exes (although they can be) – they might just be a random person you spoke to online.

To those who leak pictures and videos: stop. It’s a betrayal of trust. What might seem like a joke to you could ruin someone’s life.

Calum thought it was safer to do live shows, since there would be no long term evidence of having done them, yet it took one person to record Calum and share it. Once it’s on the internet it’s impossible to stop it.

If you wholeheartedly want to send videos and pictures then fine (it worked for Paris Hilton). Just remember that not every person you speak to online is respectful of you or your boundaries.

It’s been a six-year-long secret for Calum. Six years of knowing that these videos were out there. That is something that I know I’m not strong enough to face. That’s why I applaud Calum.

We all make mistakes in life to varying degrees and some of those mistakes have long term consequences, yet it takes a lot to stand up, face your mistake and then own them. We should all learn from mistakes, not just our own but others’.

So next time someone asks you to cam or send them pictures, think of yourself and your safety. Would you be really happy if these pictures were shared?

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