As we mark the end of this year’s LGBT History Month – in a year like no other – we’re unveiling our ‘Unsung’ community heroes. The theme of history month in Scotland this year sought to shine a light on the contributions of LGBT+ folk often underrepresented. “There’s empowerment in representation” the history month action pack states, and it’s never been more true.
With 63 events listed on the official LGBT History Month Scotland website, it’s been a fantastic month-long celebration and exploration of our history and heritage as a community. It’s been a chance to highlight those contemporary activists and to remember the lessons from our past.
As the smash-hit TV series ‘It’s a Sin’ demonstrates so powerfully, we rise up as a community to face adversity with love and compassion. We should remember that each of us is making history every single day, that’s why we wanted to highlight some of the pioneering people who inspire us:
1 – Dr Paul Murray, Kirkcaldy High School
As a bisexual chemistry and science teacher, Paul joined Kirkcaldy High in 2012 and has supported the KHS LGBT+ group over a number of years, improving the representation and visibility of LGBT+ young people and the issues important to them. The group won the prestigious COSLA President’s Award in 2018. As well as hosting the iconic Sir Ian McKellen at the school in recent years, the group has delivered LGBT training in the community and Paul has been a driving force behind the success of Fife Pride since its launch in 2017. He has his own radio show on K107 FM and is an enthusiastic and passionate activist for LGBT+ equality – we wish everyone had teachers like Dr Murray!
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2 – Ged Hall, Scene Alba Magazine
Ged is the Founder and Editor of Scene Alba Magazine, launched in 2016. The magazine is a popular mix of Scottish queer arts and culture and Ged has featured a host of LGBT+ charities and community groups, often with free advertising, helping them reach thousands of people with each bumper edition. As a community-focussed enterprise, Scene Alba also regularly raise money for good causes – thousands of pounds has been. Most recently, the magazine sold ‘La’ badges (from ‘It’s a Sin’) with almost £750 heading to HIV Scotland as a result. As well as the magazine, Ged also launched the ‘NMFA’ dance nights in Glasgow – meaning ‘No More F***ing Abba’ – in 2016. Ged is a tireless campaigner for social justice and fairness, especially for LGBT+ people, and he continues to support several charities and organisations to continue their vital work. We’re incredibly grateful to have Ged in our corner, fighting for LGBT folk around the country.
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3 – Susan Hart, Scottish Borders LGBT Equality
Susan is a stalwart amongst LGBT activists in Scotland, running the only group in the Borders for queer people which started nearly 15 years ago. The group raise awareness and visibility of LGBT+ folk in more rural places, often hosting colourful stalls and information events across the country. Susan passionately represents the people of the Borders and played a key role in making Scottish Borders Council the first local authority in Scotland to fly the transgender flag to mark Transgender Day of Visibility. The group would later host the first queer film festival in the Borders and are a key partner in organising the ‘Reclaim the Night’ event.
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4 – Kerry “Kez” Rush, Positive Change Arts Project
Kez lives in Edinburgh and is a creative powerhouse! Their ‘Positive Change Arts Project‘ is an umbrella for several creative solutions to help LGBT+ people talk about and understand mental health. While they provide valuable opportunities for the community to come together, Kez has also supported the work of MATE Edinburgh who have been at the forefront of providing relief during the COVID pandemic in the capital for trans and non-binary people. Despite their own health worries, made worse after contracting COVID, Kez remains active in supporting disabled LGBT people and those with chronic illness (and allies) through their Saturday Socials events.
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5 – Jordan McGhee, Sky UK
Jordan, from Fife, is a Change Analyst with media giants Sky and was key to the implementation of the LGBT+ @ Sky employee network in 2012. Since then, the network has grown significantly, hosting an annual programme of events across all of Sky’s UK sites and departments. Jordan is regularly seen at Scotland’s Pride events, usually representing Sky and discussing why the employer wants to encourage us all to ‘Just Be’. He also plays for the inclusive rugby team, the Dunfermline Knights RFC, and has talked openly about the struggles for some gay men getting into sport. Jordan demonstrates how individuals can influence change within the workplace, to champion equality as a value which is core to modern businesses.
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6 – Emily Love, Dunoon Pride
Emily is the Founder and Chair of one of Scotland’s newest Pride events in the beautiful location of Dunoon on the West coast. As well as running her own Etsy shop, Emily is championing the representation of LGBT+ people in rural areas through Pride, which was due to take place in 2020 for the first time. Despite COVID frustrating her plans, the former teacher and her Pride team are working hard to deliver for the community as soon as it is safe to do so, adding another fantastic location to the growing places in Scotland to host their own Pride events. Emily enjoys crocheting, painting and sometimes cross stitching too!
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7 – Dom Miller-Graham, Our Story Scotland & Pink Saltire
Dom is a trained counsellor and therapist, as well as a volunteer with Our Story Scotland, the national LGBT oral history charity. The group capture the lived experiences of queer people around the country, literally recording LGBT history for future generations, with many of their recordings being stored in the national archive. Since 2019, Dom has also worked with Pink Saltire, producing a podcast about the elder community and lately as our Wellbeing Coordinator. Growing up and living in Fife, Dom is a self-confessed history geek, with a keen interest in queer heritage and culture from years gone by. Dom is fiercely proud of his own Fife roots and works to ensure his efforts are authentic and inclusive of marginalised intersectional identities in everything he does.