Category Archives: Edinburgh

Bi Visibility Day

Sunday, November 19, 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

Sunday, November 19, 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

Sunday, November 19, 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

Sunday, November 19, 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.

Service Evaluation Findings 2016

Sunday, November 19, 2017

235 people who use LGBT Health took the time to tell us what they thought about our services

 “A fantastic increase in the connection with the community around me. A huge increase in confidence about not only myself but around and with other people.”

 “Better mental health, feel more supported, more in touch with the LGBT community, and feel much less socially isolated.”

 “Without LGBT being in existence, I would have been so lonely and isolated in the world. Self-harming and feelings of suicide would be on my mind constantly.”

We conducted our annual Service Evaluation again in late 2016 to find out more about who uses our services and what you think of them.

The survey, completed by 235 respondents, gave us lots of feedback which will be invaluable in further developing our services. Here is a summary of what you told us:

Key findings

 “This is the best organisation I have ever been supported by. With the hardest working and most talented and committed staff”

  • LGBT Health is engaging with a really wide range of individuals of all ages
    who identify right across the LGBT spectrum – and beyond
  • 91% of you rated our staff as excellent or very good
  • 81% of you said that you found the quality of our services as excellent or very good
  • 79% of you rated your overall experience of the organisation as excellent or very

What difference LGBT Health has made for you

 “Meeting people who one can be totally at ease with. Going to things in a group that one would not otherwise attend or could not get to.”

  • 75% of you are more confident in seeking support
  • 69% of you reported that you feel better about yourselves
  • 67% of you feel more aware of services
  • 64% of you feel more connected to your community as a result of using our services
  • 58% report that you have better mental and emotional health

What you enjoy and value

 “I’ve gained a wealth of community support, much more connection to the community, individual support access to resources.”

“A fantastic increase in the connection with the community around me. A huge increase in confidence about not only myself but around and with other people.”

  • Social interaction
  • Sense of community and community support
  • Welcoming and accepting environment
  • Wide range of information and support
  • Improved wellbeing and self- awareness

Your suggestions for improvements
and our response

 “I’d like to see more information on services on Facebook as it’s a great way of notifying/reminding people. I have seen a great improvement recently, keep on doing that.”

  • Access and inclusion
    • We will continue to communicate with you in a range of ways, ensuring that information about what we do is readily available
    • We will continue to look at accessibility of our services and events
    •  We are committed to ensuring our services are inclusive and responsive to needs. The service evaluation allows us to continue to monitor our reach into the community
  • Publicity and promotion
    • In late 2014 we launched our new website and in 2016 we revamped our quarterly programme. We will continue to review our range of publicity tools during 2017
    • We will continue to develop our programme of events to ensure it remains varied

You also provided a wealth of suggestions for new or repeat activities, which we will certainly be referring to as we plan our programme over the coming year.

What you can do for us

Firstly do keep giving us your feedback, so we can ensure we deliver the services our communities need!

Also, the survey showed that many of you hear about us by word of mouth, which means that you can really help us to reach others by spreading the word.

Many thanks to all of you who responded. Your feedback really is invaluable to us!