SX Scotland and The Terrence Higgins Trust are holding an online event tonight aimed at providing support to gay and bisexual men living in rural areas across Highland Perthshire.
The event aims to provide a safe and supportive space where participants can discuss issues and connect with likeminded people from the comfort of their own home.
SX Lead at Waverley Care, Christopher Ward, said:
“The whole purpose of the event is to provide a space in which gay and bisexual men living in remote and rural areas have a chance to meet people like them.
“It’s an introduction session which is happening tonight to work out what are key themes that are coming up for guys. It’s based on a peer support model so they can meet people similar to themselves who have similar experiences and how they might support one another.
“The whole plan is just to allow people to feel connected and a part of something where particularly we know men living in remote and rural areas feel that they’re missing out on elements of the community.
“From quite a lot of research that’s taken place in Scotland we know that the experiences of LGBT people in general living in remote and rural areas is different.
“The Equality Network did a report in 2020 that showed that with LGBT communities in rural areas 51% said they actually needed to always travel into cities to get to social spaces and 40% of those living outside cities in Scotland felt isolated from the LGBT community.
The Equality Networks report titled ‘Further Out: The Scottish LGBT Rural Equality Report’ included data from 2017-2020 on the life experiences of those living rurally and highlighted not only social inequalities but also prejudice and discrimination and lack of access to inclusive services.
This has a negative effect on overall wellbeing and mental health of those in the LGBT community which the Equality Network say was heightened by the Covid 19 pandemic.
“I think there are specific unique challenges and it’s a basic thing around ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it’ so there’s something around representation of LGBT people and lives in rural settings that needs addressing.
“One thing from the pandemic is a lot of services went online so there is a lot of ways of getting one to one support from services like SX in different areas particularly in NHS Tayside, we have Men Only Tayside who do fantastic work in the area, and they are more than happy to provide support for people in rural and remote areas.
“There is a variety of things and of course the SX website is a fantastic resource and we are always happy to be in touch via email or our live chat.”
To read the Equality Networks report ‘Further Out: The Scottish LGBT Rural Equality Report’ in full, please visit The Equality Network