There are significant dates in the calendar which create opportunities for shining a light on LGBT, disability and women’s issues. These movements and moments are vital parts of a critical information patchwork for anyone seeking to take action for equality.
Pride Month is celebrated every June as a tribute to those who were involved in the Stonewall Riots. Events take place all month with a focus on Pride on the 28th of June which is the anniversary of the riots.
In honour of those brave souls who shone light on the struggle we in the LGBT+ family face, we continue to make a collective plea to challenge bias and forge for an equal world for all. This is something I embrace wholeheartedly. I believe it is so important to support all LGBT+ people to fulfil their potential and we can do this by coming together, sharing our stories and helping one another.
My whole life, personal and professional, has been about being visible as a person who is categorised as one at risk of exclusion. This began for me as a disabled teenager and with hindsight my struggle to access the world of education, work and relationships meant I did not deal with the issues of my sexuality. Also back in the 60s,70s and 80s there was very little in the public domain about lesbian lifestyles, certainly none that I came across. So my feelings went unattended to my personal expense.
So for me today being a role model is important. I believe in the importance of me being personally visible with my own LGBT+ family. If this means even one individual who has not yet been able to come out to themselves or to others feels supported by us that is brilliant. I found it challenging to come out and be myself when I was younger so as a lesbian now finding herself in the 60s I want to be there for others with my story.
Despite the difficulty I faced, once I finally came out as a lesbian at 36 years of age, I embraced this with the same passion I had for raising awareness of disability and achieving my career goals. I became out and proud both as a disabled woman, as a lesbian. I am also proud to be a this woman around the board table as Chair of ILF Scotland, NHS Golden Jubilee and more recently with the third sector advocacy organisation VoiceAbility.
I very much believe that together we are stronger as a community when we are a community which celebrates difference and diversity. When marginalised people in society thrive, I believe we all do, and it is time to start working towards an inclusive society where everyone including me, a disabled lesbian woman and others like me can succeed.