Pride Month: LGBT Scots on homophobia, trans rights and what still needs to change in Scotland

There may not be a parade this year, but Pride Month is an opportunity to spotlight LGBT+ experiences in Scotland. So we spoke to a range of young people about their lives and the issues facing their community in 2021. Heather McDade is bisexual and a volunteer ambassador for LGBT charity Just Like Us. The 23-year-old from Highland Perthshire says: “I think the most important thing in Scotland, particularly in rural areas, is for more people to talk positively and openly about being LGBT+. “Because there’s a culture of silence surrounding it, I could never know growing up that I would be supported, and so went through all my childhood afraid of what people’s reaction would be, and ashamed of who I was.” Heather remembers being “excited and happy” when same-sex marriage was legalised in 2014. She wanted to put up signs and give out sweets in school to celebrate it, but was told she needed approval and said it was made clear this would not happen. “I felt ignored, unimportant, and really isolated,” Heather says, “That’s why it’s so important for allies to speak up, and actively support LGBT+ people, as keeping quiet just helps to perpetuate this silence and shame.” Jonathan Litewski, 33, and his partner Lee Riches, 28, have faced homophobia while living in temporary accommodation in Edinburgh. The pair were made homeless when their car – which they both relied on for work as carers – failed its MOT and they had to spend three months’ rent to fix it. They have been living in emergency housing since January 2020. “The only hot meals we could have were cheese toasties made with tin foil and an iron,” said Jonathan, “We were out in a room with no cooking facilities or washing machine. “My employer noticed I was losing weight and my clothes were dirty.” On top of this, they were abused for being gay. “There was abuse from other residents, and one member of staff.