Almost 100 guests from across Scotland came together in The Scottish Parliament last week to mark the launch of LGBT History Month 2019.
The event, sponsored by Jenny Gilruth MSP and organised by Pink Saltire, brought LGBT activists, charities, local organisations and politicians to Holyrood, where they were able to see the updated LGBT History Timeline.
The timeline charts the journey towards LGBT equality in Scotland, highlighting significant events in our history right up to the present day. The exhibition travelled around Scotland throughout 2018 and has been seen by over 5000 people at events including Glasgow and Edinburgh Pride.
Guests at the reception included Minister for Older People & Equalities, Christina McKelvie MSP, as well as politicians Kezia Dugdale, Patrick Harvie and Jamie Green, Oliver Mundell, Gail Ross and Ministers in the Scottish Cabinet, Kevin Stewart and Joe FitzPatrick.
Commenting on the event, Jenny Gilruth, who is the MSP for Glenrothes and Kinglassie, said:
“The Scottish Parliament has a proud history of promoting LGBT rights – from the Equal Marriage Act in 2014, to adopting Inclusive Education in our schools to pardoning men simply for who they loved – Holyrood has made a real difference and one that I am proud of.”
“That being said, we should never rest on our laurels. LGBT history month is an important reminder of a time when equal rights were not a guarantee. It should galvanise us all to work to ensure that equality for the LGBT community remains at the top of the political agenda – to create a Scotland which truly values all of its people.”
The event included speeches from Christina McKelvie and Jenny Gilruth, as well as Director of Stonewall Scotland, Colin Macfarlane. But it was the touching stories from ordinary LGBT people shared on the night which moved the audience to tears at times.
Stevie Maybanks, who works for the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and is also a Stonewall Role Model, spoke passionately about her own inspirational life in public service and how each individual should be respected, whoever they love and however they identify.
There were moving words too from Fife couple Deb Hillgartner and Liz Beveridge, who talked about their enduring love for each other and the differences between Scotland and Deb’s homeland of the United States.
But it was Shauni-Lorraine Young, a member of the Dundee Dragons Youth Group, who was brought to tears as she recalled her own struggles with poor mental health and anxiety during her school years, outlining the lack of support available to her at the time. She’s since blossomed through support from the LGBT Youth Scotland service in Dundee and is now studying Community Education at Uni.
The night was brought to a perfect end with the warm tones of the Edinburgh Gay Men’s Chorus, which filled the corridors of Holyrood with well-known hits including ABBA’s ‘Lay All Your Love on Me’.
February is packed with LGBT events all around the country, including film screenings, exhibitions, talks and lots lots more. Find out what’s happening by visiting the LGBT History Month Scotland website here.