All posts by Camille Vincent

Bi Visibility Day

Monday, September 25, 2017

The 23rd of September is dedicated to Bisexual Visibility Day. There are lots of stereotypes and misconceptions associated with bisexuality and this day is meant to raise awareness and shed light on the real experiences of bisexual people.

Activists like Robyn Ochs are dedicated to dismantle the preconceived notions that surround bisexuality. In an interview, Ochs talks about the issue of bi-erasure, which ironically, many people do not view as a problem. She discusses the fact that bisexual people get accused of “passing” as straight and are therefore at times, ostracized by the LGBT community. Bi people are asked to “choose already” and to “pick a side” and because of these stereotypes their identity is not seen as valid.

Author of Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain, Kate Harrad discusses the importance of Bi Visibility Day and the reasons why stereotypes and stigma need to be talked about. When people claim that bisexuals are “greedy and promiscuous”, they base their assumptions on the fact that just because bisexual people experience attraction to more than one gender they must be “sleeping around with everyone”. These claims are very harmful and can cause many people to either stay in the closet or be ashamed to be associated with the label. Internalised bi-phobia can manifest due to all or any of these reasons, bisexual men are accused of using this label to hide that they are actually gay and women are blamed for wanting male attention.

These harmful stereotypes hinder any progress that LGBT+ activists try to make, they are not only damaging for bisexual people but to the community as a whole. How can we fight for equality and acceptance when we shun those within our own community? Thankfully, more and more people are vocal about the issues surrounding bisexuality and are sharing their experiences. Bi Visibility Day is important because we need the reminder that bisexuality is valid and indeed, exist. You should not be ashamed for who you want to be with and you don’t owe anyone any explanation.

If you’d like to know more about the Bi Visibility Day, you can visit the official page which gathers all the information you might need on the topic or you can look on the Bimonthy Bisexual Magazine to read more about bisexuality, activism and news in the community. If you’d like to share your thoughts or experiences, see that there is positivity and support out there, you can use the #BiVisibilityDay or #BiPride and find others who might have gone through similar things.

You can also join us at our LGBT+ Film Night and Discussion where we will mark Bi Visibility Day with the screening of ‘Margarita with a Straw’ featuring an open bisexual character. The film will feed into a guest panel discussion which will explore the visibility and representation of queer lives on screen – particularly depictions that involve multiple marginalised communities, like disabled or D/deaf bisexuals and/or queers of colour. Subtitles during the film and BSL during the discussion will be provided.

LGBT Summer Celebration

Monday, September 25, 2017

We ended the month of July with our annual LGBT Summer Celebration. Here at LGBT Health and Wellbeing we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed both by volunteering or attending and adding to the wonderful atmosphere.

I’d like to take this time to share my experience at the celebration to hopefully encourage anyone who is hesitant about attending social events. I know from personal experience that going to something where you might not know many people, or anyone at all, can be intimidating; and for the socially awkward of us, even scary. By sharing my experience at the event, I hope to give you an idea of what LGBT Health’s events are like and ease your worries a little.

I have been volunteering in the Edinburgh’s offices for a couple of months now and it has been an incredibly valuable and overall wonderful experience. The LGBT Summer Celebration was the first event that we organised that I had the chance to attend and help out at. As a volunteer, I arrived before the official opening to help with some of the setting up and as soon as I walked into the building I knew that it was going to be a great experience. I was welcomed by other volunteers who were there to help with the event, and I can genuinely say that everyone there was wonderful and so excited to be working at the event. The venue was lovely, decorated with all the possible rainbow things you can find, and we had some amazing live performances that made everyone smile and even gave a little shimmy. As the helper at the craft table, I had the chance to talk to different people and get (accidentally-on-purpose) covered in glitter (I have no regrets, but I’m still finding specks of shiny foil around my house). What stood out to me most and what I will remember, is how much everyone cared about the community. It was clear that we were there to make everyone feel accepted and to celebrate the warmth and strength of our community.

So if the thought of sticking out or not knowing anyone is holding you back from coming to any of our events, please don’t worry. I barely knew anyone coming there and I had the chance to meet some wonderful people who did not hesitate to start a conversation and include me in activities. Both my friends, who I brought along with me, kept commenting on how welcome and happy they felt at the event. Both, not knowing what to really expect before arriving, said that they have never been anywhere where they felt like they were not judged and they did not have to worry about how they were coming across. The atmosphere at the celebration made you feel like you could just be yourself, it was this wonderful little bubble of support and acceptance and I am so happy I got to experience it. Also, I got to see a puppy in a stroller, so that seriously made my day.

After attending the event, the name ‘LGBT Summer Celebration’ absolutely made sense to me. It was a gathering of people who carry out small acts of kindness in their everyday life and it is right to take a day to celebrate that. I hope that you will find the time to attend some of our events and get the chance to feel like you found a place where you can be yourself.

Lenka

This month, we celebrate

Monday, September 25, 2017

Here at LGBT Health and Wellbeing, we are just coming off of Pride Edinburgh festivities. As our community gather together each year to remember those whose sacrifices contributed to the fight for equality, we are always in awe at the resilience and pride demonstrated. Rainbows, chants and marches can fill people with so much hope and witnessing it at Pride always gives our team more motivation to carry our work. We were very glad to be a part of Pride Edinburgh once again. We loved spending time with the community, all in joyfulness and fabulousness. We want to thank everyone who engaged with us and took part in some of our activities. We are grateful for all the support you show to our organisation, and most importantly, the support you show to each other.

It is easy to get swept up in the festivities, rainbow flags and glitter but we also want to remember that we marched in solidarity of those who couldn’t and still can’t march. Because Pride also helps us remind ourselves that we are not alone and that we are all striving for something good. This is why we want to take the energy and spirit from Pride and carry it forward, because we should take every opportunity to uplift those who face difficulties in their lives.

The current political and social climate makes it easy to feel lost and discouraged and so we want to dedicate July to celebrate all the good things and people who work hard every day to make the world a more tolerant and understanding place. Sometimes, it might seem that things are not getting any better, especially with news like the discovery of Anti-LGBT violence in Chechnya – the outlook might seem bleak. But there are organisations dedicated to working towards saving those persecuted: the Human Rights Watch has a dedicated website to the issue and the Amnesty International UK page where you can sign a petition urging the authorities to take action and ensure peoples’ safety. Remember that your voice matters, even at times when you feel that’s not the case. It is people who inspire people, and that’s how progress is still happening. Last Friday morning, after 15 years since legalising civil unions for same-sex partnerships, Germany finally voted to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Change takes a while but when it happens, all the hard work is worth it.

This is why we want July at LGBT Health and Wellbeing to be about celebration – a reminder to be proud and celebrate our differences continuously whilst striving for change. As much as Pride celebrates all the milestones and victories of our community, it’s also a time to celebrate yourself. As an organisation, we work hard to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and we believe that celebrating diversity can help us in doing so. Our programme of social events aims to encourage intersectionality through various events, bringing together and introducing people from a mix of backgrounds and experiences. This month, we will celebrate body positivity with an LGBTQ Yoga session and a spoken word evening with Katherine McMahon at our Women’s Wellbeing Events. We will also be looking at historical trans figures at our monthly T time meetup and looking at the experiences of LGBT asylum seekers and refugees during a community discussion. And finally, our last festivity of the month, our annual family-friendly
LGBT Summer Celebration where we’ll be celebrating all things queer.

July – September 2017 Programme

Monday, September 25, 2017

Every month, we deliver a series of events for the entire diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), non-binary, queer, intersex and asexual communities. Through the delivery of these events, we aim to increase social capital providing social opportunities, alternatives to the traditional LGBT scene, peer support, information and advocacy.

Our programme of social events support the range of services that we provide:

  • LGBT Headspace: safe and creative activities to promote positive mental health and wellbeing including monthly groups, Women’s Wellbeing Events and LGBT Space at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital
  • Transgender Programme: social activities, workshops and courses for transgender, non-binary and intersex communities including T time, a monthly meetup open to friends, families and allies
  • Rainbow Families Project: events, information and support for LGBTQI families
  • LGBT Age: social activities for people aged 50 and over
  • Mental Wellbeing Project: events, workshops and regular groups promoting mental wellbeing and techniques for self-management
  • Community Groups: weekly and monthly community groups self-managed and facilitated by community members

All our events are delivered under a Safe Space Commitment actively upheld by our staff, volunteers and community groups leaders. A Safe Space is somewhere everyone feels welcome, respected and comfortable with being who they are. This includes people who access our services, volunteers, community groups leaders and staff.

To keep updated with events coming up each month, you can subscribe to our range of e-bulletins which you will then received monthly or quarterly. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

LGBT Inclusive Mental Health Services | New Guide

Monday, September 25, 2017

A drive to improve mental health services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people has begun today with the launch of a new guide by the Mental Welfare Commission.

The guide, which was co-produced with LGBT Health and Wellbeing, has been launched in a bid to increase awareness of LGBT rights amongst mental health professionals, and help health and social care services to deliver more person-centred care and support.

It aims to address inequalities in the support and treatment of LGBT people across Scotland’s mental health services, and features a number of recommendations for making services more accessible and LGBT-friendly. Copies will be sent out to all psychiatric wards in Scotland, as well as primary care and community services.

Dr Gary Morrison, Executive Director (Medical) at the Mental Welfare Commission said:

 “We are excited to announce the publication of our new guide on LGBT inclusion in mental health services.

“LGBT people experience higher rates of mental disorder and are much more likely to think about suicide or self-harming. They are also more likely to have negative experiences when accessing mental health services.

“We hope that by producing this guidance we can help eliminate discrimination against LGBT people in mental health services, and equip health and social care professionals with the information they need to provide the best possible care and support.”

Maruska Greenwood, Chief Executive at LGBT Health and Wellbeing, said:

“We were delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Commission on this guide. Through our work with LGBT people we know the tremendous positive difference it makes to individuals to be able to engage with service providers who do not make assumptions, judge or stigmatise them because of their minority sexual orientation or gender identity. We hope this guide will reach new audiences with the important message that acceptance and inclusion are key to supporting LGBT people experiencing poor mental health.”

Catherine Somerville, Campaigns, Policy and Research Manager at Stonewall Scotland, also supported the launch of the guide:

“It is really positive to see the Mental Welfare Commission putting in place this much needed guidance to support mental health professionals to better meet the needs of their LGBT patients. Our research suggests that half of mental health workers, including counsellors, psychologists and psychotherapists do not recognise the relevance of sexual orientation to someone’s health needs (Unhealthy Attitudes, 2015). This guidance is an important step forward to make sure that LGBT people can access mental health services with confidence.”

The document is available here.

Note to Editors

The rate of suicidal ideation and self-harm for LGBT people is 20-25%, compared with 2.4% for the general population.

Jamie Wilson  0131 313 8782