Gay soldier passes on award for Major who improved LGBT equality within higher ranks

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In 2008, Prince Harry was praised for intervening in a homophobic attack on his openly gay friend, James Wharton, the author of “Out in the Army,” while training as soldiers in Canada. According to Wharton’s account, after he told the Prince the men had threatened to “batter” him, he had gone out to “sort this—once and for all.”

In 2009, Trooper Wharton became the first openly gay soldier to appear on the cover of the Armed Forces magazine.

And this year, James Wharton was recently nominated for Diversity Champion of the Year at the Out in the City Magazine Awards.

However, Wharton has chosen to decline the nomination, instead giving his full support to British Army Major Damian Jenkins being selected for the honor instead. He explained that the openly gay doctor in the Royal Army Medical Corps has made the top ranks of the armed forces more LGBT friendly.

Speaking to Gay Star News, Wharton said, “I was at the very bottom of the ranks, I was a trooper. He is an officer.”

He added, “He is in circles that are quite right wing in their attitudes and about how the military should be. He didn’t go in and create friction but went in there with a very level head, proved the business case for diversity and influenced change in a very grown-up way.”

The awards ceremony, dubbed Britain’s “Gay Oscars,” promotes equality and diversity for LGBTI people. It will be hosted at London’s Landmark Hotel on April 25.

Amongst other celebrities, Olympic diver Tom Daley, Culture Club singer Boy George, broadcaster Clare Balding, and TV presenter Alan Carr are also in the running for awards.

429Magazine

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