In the week that we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, our SX manager Alastair Rose reflects on the road ahead for gay and bisexual men in Scotland and the work we still have to do to really achieve equality.
For many of us old enough to remember the days of section 28 and the fear of even disclosing your sexuality to loved ones had left us feeling isolated and anxious about the future path, our life might take. The 50th anniversary of Stonewall gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the advancement of our rights and acceptance of identity. And yes we should be proud of the changes that we have seen in society and the eradication of legislation such as section 28. However, despite this, I still ask the question have we arrived at a point of equality?
For me, the answer is no, however things for gay and bisexual men have improved significantly, but for equality to exist, we need to go further than legislation. Equality is more than just what is enacted in law, it is about ensuring we are free of discrimination in society we live. Equality also means that we feel able to talk openly about our lives, including the sex we have, the relationships we form and our mental health.
Scotland has fantastic examples of how the LGBTIQ community has driven social changes and tackled the inequalities through collaborative activism. PrEP for an example, due to grass roots activism is available on the NHS in Scotland ultimately improving the health and wellbeing of the communities most at risk. As a community we have also openly celebrated recent advancements in HIV healthcare known as Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U). This means that someone living with HIV, with an undetectable viral load cannot pass of the virus through sex. These are messages that reinvigorate the passionate activism that began with Stonewall.
Now we must take this forward to tackle the issues that prevent our communities from achieving equality. Record high hate crimes are committed against LGBTIQ people, poor mental health and suicide impacts our community and Trans people still face wide discrimination in everyday life. We have worked together and achieved great things that have changed society. But now is not the time to become complacent, and continue to fight for access, representation and respect for our community.