We celebrated LGBT History Month in Scotland

We celebrated LGBT History Month in Scotland

February was Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month and it was positive seeing so many events, campaigns and awareness raising initiatives taking place all over the UK. The month is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come with LGBT+ equality and acceptance in the UK, but also for us not to get complacent and to keep pushing for greater acceptance in the UK, and for those further afield.

We’ve come so far over the last decade but there is still so much to do until we have true equality in every part of our lives. Changes in the law and policy is one thing, and a great and long overdue thing at at, but changing many people’s hearts and minds is something else – and this is a long road. Let’s not forget that despite equality in the eyes of the law in most areas, in the UK homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crimes are on the rise and bullying in our schools and online is a major issue affecting many people. So bad for lots of LGBT+ people that they attempt to take their own life. This isn’t ok.

As a gay man who has been ‘out’ for ten years and in a relationship with my fiancé Matthew for eight of those, I still don’t feel comfortable holding his hand in public. Not because I don’t love him, because I do, but because of what the reaction of others may be. It’s a journey and I know that my challenging the homophobia and snide comments experienced will help educate those who need it. How long will it be until a same-sex couple can show the same levels of public affection as a non same-sex couple without anyone batting an eye lid?

Thank you to all the organisations and staff network groups who invited me to their LGBT History Month and International Women’s Day (8th March) events. Wow, there were so many. It was amazing seeing all the energy behind making them a reality. I know it can be hard, and often thankless, work but they are so important. Congratulations on all your wonderful events and successes. You smashed it!

I would have loved to have attended them all, but Inclusive Networks is just me so sadly this isn’t possible. I’m also easing my self back into Inclusive Networks, so one step at a time.

“We’ve come so far over the last decade but there is still so much to do until we have true equality in every part of our lives. Changes in the law and policy is one thing, and a great and long overdue thing at at, but changing many people’s hearts and minds is something else – and this is a long road.”

Throughout February I did attend a few LGBT+ events in my current home city, Edinburgh.

I was honoured to be invited by the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP, to an event in the heart of Edinburgh to celebrate the people and organisations who help make life better for LGBT+ people in Scotland. It was an intimate event that showcased an interesting photo exhibition and some informative presentations, in the presence of attendees from all over Scotland. Some of the organisations represented included Scottish Water, Lloyds Banking Group, Scene Alba, LGBT Youth Scotland, Dundee Pride and The Equality Network. I saw a few familiar faces who I met at some previous Inclusive Networks events so it was great catching up with them – including Douggie Bosphore-Ward from the Royal Navy and inspiring transgender role model Jennie Robertson (we were also both judges for the 2017 Icon Awards). It would have been great to have had more representation from other political parties at the event – there was lots of name badges on the table that weren’t collected. Thank you for the invite and for hosting this event.

I also attended the launch of one of Scotland’s newest LGBT+ Pride events, Pride Saltire, at Cockenzie House and Gardens just outside of Edinburgh. I didn’t quite know what to expect from the event as I wasn’t too familiar with Pride Saltire prior to attending, it is a new event after all. It was a glorious sunny day and the picturesque setting, with a lovely garden and country house as the backdrop, was a nice change from the more commercial feeling venues used for Pride events. The event was over an afternoon and included a small area with information stalls, an area for socialising and networking and a room where community radio station Scene Radio were broadcasting from. It was great seeing organisations including Barnardo’s, The Army and Unison exhibiting on the day. The cafe in the house was decorated with huge Pride flags that made me smile with pride and were a talking point for those guests who weren’t aware of the Pride event taking place on the floor below them. After the launch event it was announced that the first Pride Saltire will take place at the historical Cockenzie House and Gardens on Saturday 4th August 2018. See you there!

Did you know there are eight LGBT+ Pride events taking place across Scotland in 2018? I’ll be telling you more about them in an upcoming article.

I also recently met up with my friend Kath Pierce who recently relocated from Manchester to Edinburgh, something I did a few years ago. Although we never actually met properly whilst I lived in Manchester, even though I booked the choir she headed for an event I organised when I worked at The Co-op, and was Chair of their LGBT staff network, and that same choir won an Inclusive Networks Award, I have admired her diverse and innovative work from afar. I can’t say too much at the moment, but I am very excited to be working with Kath and a small team of awesome people on a brand new, and much needed, LGBT+ enterprise called ‘Somewhere’. It’ll be launching in Edinburgh soon, with a roll-out across Scotland following. Watch this space, it’s going to be awesome!

Photo : A selection of photos from events and initiatives mentioned in this blog post

“Something I haven’t shared in a post yet is the news that in late 2017 Inclusive Networks won two awards at the Business Innovator Awards, powered by CV Magazine.”

Although I now live in Edinburgh and lived in Manchester for eight years and Newcastle Upon Tyne for a short while, the historic market town Alnwick in Northumberland is where I lived for the first 25 years of my life, and where much of my family and school friends still live. I still call it home. I moved away from the town so I could be my true self, something I felt I couldn’t be at that time – for lots of reasons. Out LGBT people were pretty thin on ground at that time and the only other LGBT person I really knew was my then best friend Lorna. She was the person who took me to a gay bar for the first time, went to my first Girls Aloud concert with (at Edinburgh Playhouse) and we experienced lots of awesome things together. We had some great times, and I have lots of amazing memories. Although we no longer have a relationship I am proud that she, and a small team of volunteers, have launched Northumberland Pride – the first major LGBT+ event for the county. They’ve already hosted a number of engagement and fundraising events across Northumberland, with many more planned, and it’s great seeing all the positive engagement. The first Northumberland Pride will take place at Alnwick Rugby Club on 2nd June 2018. Keep updated by visiting their new website here.

Something I haven’t shared in a post yet is the news that in late 2017 Inclusive Networks won two awards at the Business Innovator Awards, powered by CV Magazine. These are ‘Best Workplace Inclusion Network’ and ‘Innovation Award for Networking Events’. Thank you to those who nominated us and to the team at CV Magazine for the recognition.

On a personal level, I recently enjoyed a relaxing long weekend in a snowy Inverness with my partner Matthew. I had never visited the Highlands before so it was interesting seeing lots of sights and soaking up the history, and there is plenty of that. The train journey was something else…breathtaking views. We had a great time. Next up…a mini break to Poland next week. I’ll tell you all about it in my next blog.

There is lots going on behind the scenes here at Inclusive Networks HQ and I’m looking forward to sharing news of Inclusive Networks re-launch event with you all very soon. Before then, I’ll continue to publish my blog every few weeks, or when I’ve got something interesting to share, and the occasional website article and social media post.

If you haven’t already, please become a ‘Friend of Inclusive Networks’ by joining our mailing list – link to the right of the page (or bottom if you’re viewing on a mobile device). You’ll receive our e-newsletter where we’ll keep you updated on all things diversity and inclusion related. Everyone is welcome!

Until next time, take care and see you all soon!

Thomas Anderson
Founder, Inclusive Networks


About The Author

Thomas Anderson

Founder and MD of Inclusive Networks. Thomas was Chair of the award winning LGBT network for The Co-operative Group, ‘Respect’ (2011-14). Thomas named the network and designed and managed all of the branding, communications and engagement until he stepped down from the role of Chair in March 2014. He also created the branding, name, was Editor of the quarterly magazine and developed the launch of the UK’s first Inter-Retail LGBT network ‘CheckOUT’. He contributed to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 5 Year review. In recognition of his work in the diversity field he was shortlisted for ‘Diversity Champion of the Year’ at the 2013 European Diversity Awards, shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the 2012 Lesbian & Gay Foundation Homo Heroes Awards and shortlisted for the ‘Positive Action’ award at the 2013 Asian Fire Service Association Fair & Diverse Awards. He also won the 2012 ‘Pride of The Co-operative’ award. He was a judge for Scotland's biggest diversity awards, The Icon Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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