Category Archives: Media

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.

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.

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

What is transgender?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Download Booklet

A booklet to support people with learning disabilities who are exploring their gender is now available. LGBT Health and Wellbeing, as part of the LGBT Learning Disability project, brought together a team of practitioners to create this unique resource. Contributors included staff from NHS Lothian, City of Edinburgh Council, NHS Forth Valley, and the Equality Network.

Annette Rae, Edinburgh Service Manager with LGBT Health and Wellbeing,
explained that:
Research findings and direct experiences shared by people with learning disabilities who access our Transgender Support Programme, strongly indicate that people with learning disabilities can often be held back from understanding and expressing their transgender status.  Additional barriers include prejudice and discrimination in the wider society, as well as from staff, family and friends that can often result in greater instances of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and even self-harm and attempted suicide. Key messages from ‘What is Transgender’ is that it’s perfectly acceptable to be transgender and positive to explore your gender.  The booklet provides some options about how people might want to express their gender, some suggested next steps, and encourages people to seek support from and talk with others who they trust.

Tracy Lazenby-Paterson, Speech & Language Therapist with NHS Lothian,
commented that:
People with learning disabilities commonly have cognitive, language and memory problems that make it difficult for them to understand and express information effectively, particularly abstract and complex issues. They can often better understand and retain information when it is simple, straightforward, concrete, and supported with visual cues. The literature supports that transgender people with learning disabilities generally identify with concrete aspects associated with gender, such as specific behaviours and appearance, rather than with the more complex, multi-dimensional gender identity model.

When we translate complex and abstract concepts into a small amount of simplified and concrete information, inevitably a great deal of fine detail will be omitted. However, too much language and fine detail can easily overload the individual with learning disabilities, such that they may fail to understand or retain any of the information provided. ‘What is Transgender’ presents information in a format that people with learning disabilities can best understand and retain, and serves as a starting point from which they can further explore the many issues pertaining to transgender identity

For more information and comments about What is Transgender please contact Annette Rae at annette@lgbthealth.org.uk

Let’s talk about SX

Monday, September 25, 2017

We’re delighted to announce the launch of SX  – A new project with the ambition to challenge the health inequalities facing gay and bisexual men living in Lothian.

SX is being delivered by us here at LGBT Health, in partnership with Waverley Care and funded by NHS Lothian.

SX will provide a one-stop-shop for men’s health needs including information and advice on sex and relationships and access to regular sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing1, condoms and lubricant. In addition SX will provide one-to-one support, counselling and a helpline dealing with a range of issues including sexual and mental health, discrimination and other health and social inequalities.

The project is being funded by NHS Lothian and builds on existing services across Lothian responding to research2 indicating that gay and bisexual men, and all men who have sex with men, are:

  • disproportionately affected by poor sexually health, including HIV and other STIs
  • twice as likely to live with mental health issues including depression and anxiety
  • twice as likely to have an alcohol or drug dependency, particularly among young gay men
  • often victims of hate crime related to their sexual identity
  • unlikely to have received any relevant sex and relationship education at school

SX is being delivered by Waverley Care, in partnership with LGBT Health following a tendering process by NHS Lothian.

Speaking on behalf of SX ahead of today’s launch, Waverley Care Chief Executive, Grant Sugden said:

“Scotland gets a lot of things right when it comes to LGBT issues but gay and bisexual men continue to face real health and social inequalities. SX is about bridging that gap.

“Sexual health’s a big part of what we do, talking positively about sex and healthy relationships, and helping guys reduce the risk of STIs. But there’s more to being a gay or bisexual man than just sex.

“Discrimination is still a big issue that puts many guys off looking for support. This can lead to issues around mental health and self-confidence that leave men open to making choices that may not be in the best interests of their health.

“SX gives guys a place within the community where they can come to talk about anything they’ve got going on in their lives. We won’t preach or judge, it’s about listening, understanding and giving men the confidence to live life their way and live it well.”

Dr Duncan F. McCormick, Consultant in Public Health Medicine of NHS Lothian added:

“All of the evidence we have points to the continuing challenges facing gay and bisexual men, and men who have sex with men, and tackling this remains a priority for the health board.

“There are a number of existing quality Sexual Health and Reproductive Health services across Lothian where men who have sex with men can access confidential, convenient sexual health information and testing, even within their own community setting.

“The work of SX will build on these existing services to provide a holistic approach that includes positive discussions around sexual health alongside mental health support and we are looking forward to working with the partners involved.”
To extend the reach of SX and maximise opportunities for community involvement with the initiative, trained volunteers will play a key role in the delivery of the service.

Chris Dalziel, a Volunteer for SX, said:

“As a gay man living in Edinburgh I can’t say how proud I am to be part of a community project that will build and empower our community to take action and tackle the social and health inequalities we face. Services such as HIV tests where results are given in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea will make a huge difference to the lives of gay and bisexual men across the Lothian region.”

Contact
Alison Irving, Communications Manager,
Tel: 0131 556 9710
Email: alison.irving@waverleycare.org