Welcome to the It Gets Better UK Blog!
Our rounds of the It Gets Better UK Regional Ambassadors continue! This week we have the lovely Fiona Hardie (she/her). Fiona works as a Programme Executive with a worldwide undergraduate internship programme. She is also one of our Regional Ambassadors for Scotland.
Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed Fiona!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I’m Fiona! I’m bisexual, turned the big 3-0 this year and currently live in Glasgow with my fiancée and our two cats. We got engaged in June so still navigating the wedding-planning scene as a queer couple, which can be pretty interesting in a heteronormative world! I’m excited for the big queer interfaith party our wedding day will be, full of nods to my partner’s Buddhist background and my own Christian and Pagan beliefs.
I have always been passionate about community, activism and empowering youth. In my day job I work for an internship programme and it’s my goal to make opportunities available to young people from all backgrounds and walks of life.
When I’m not working or volunteering you’ll find me knitting, making delicious food from all over the world or practising herbalism as a kitchen witch in training. I also love a good rom-com.
2. How did you get involved with It Gets Better UK?
My partner Katie works in a few different interfaith circles and co-founded the Glasgow LGBT+ Interfaith Network (GLIN) a few years ago. She told me about a volunteering opportunity she’d been made aware of with IGBUK and as someone who wanted to get more involved with organisations like this and give back, it seemed perfect. Glasgow has a thriving queer community and there are so many stories and so much history to be told.
Sadly, not long after I was appointed as Regional Ambassador, Covid hit and all my plans to be at various events were scuppered. But as we move back to in-person events I am so excited to increase our visibility as an organisation across Scotland! I love meeting new people and hearing their stories, and I can’t wait to share these with the next generation of LGBTQ+ youth.
3. Tell us a bit about your own mental health experiences and being LGBTQ+?
To be honest, it’s been a bit of a rocky road – coming out wasn’t the easiest, and I spent many years of my youth grappling with both my queer identity and my faith background. This is quite a common theme unfortunately, but I like to think I’m living proof that it can and does get better (!) and that you don’t always need to cut off part of your identity to let the other parts flourish. It took time though; it didn’t happen overnight. The road to self-acceptance has been long, especially with anxiety and depression, but I hope that my visibility will make it easier for others.
These days I am much more comfortable and confident, and at peace with my identity – and have had a few different stints of LGBTQ-specific counselling, which has worked wonders; I can’t recommend it enough. There’s also no shame in medication; mine has been keeping me stable for years and it’s important to know that progress isn’t always linear – and that is okay. Surrounding myself with a great support network of people who understand and accept me has been vital to my mental health.
4. What do you think LGBTQ+ people can learn from your experiences?
I’d like to think that my experiences show that you don’t have to shoehorn yourself into a particular single identity – that your personality and identity are multifaceted and multiple strands of those can coexist, and they can be reconciled.
You shouldn’t let anyone else tell you what to be; allow space within you for every part of you.
5. If you had one message for LGBTQ+ people what would it be?
However you may be feeling, whatever you’re going through – you are not alone. I wish I’d known this when I was younger and really struggling with my identity, so I want to make others aware of it. Visibility is everything and whilst not everyone is comfortable with labels (or needs to be), queer people telling their stories is vital for the next generation to really see themselves reflected and promote acceptance at every level. We have always been here!
6. Is there anything you want to add to the interview that we haven’t captured here already?
On the subject of faith and queer identity, I was part of an LGBTQ+ intersectional panel discussion this year with the University of Glasgow’s Student Representative Council for LGBTQ+ History Month. You can hear me discuss more of my journey of self-acceptance here: Faith and Identity - Where the Two Roads Meet: An LGBTQ+ Intersectional Panel Discussion.