This month we interviewed student and activist and one of our It Gets Better Regional Ambassadors for Scotland, Erin!
Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Hi there! I’m Erin, I’m 21 and I’m currently a 4th year International Relations and Politics student in Dundee (originally from Edinburgh), and I’ve also been an activist since the age of 17. I came out as a lesbian around 3 years ago when I was 18, but I had known I was sapphic from the age of 15. Growing up I was very lucky to grow up in a household that preached that it doesn’t matter who you love, as long as your happy. I had also been a part of my high school diversity club, organising purple Friday events and fundraising events. Now I’m part of the committee for 3 societies on my campus, as well as being on the advisory panel and a spokesperson for Scottish charities that empower young women.
As an activist, I’m mostly involved with the women’s sector and intersectional feminism, but recently with becoming a regional ambassador I have become to dabble in the world of LGBTQ+ activism, especially at my university. I have the personal goal of eventually starting something to get more girls and young women into politics.
When I’m not doing all this exciting stuff, you can usually find me playing video games and listening to Taylor Swift.
2. How did you get involved with It Gets Better UK?
I found out about It Gets Better through some video game streamers that I watch being involved with the American It Gets Better programme, and that sparked research into It Gets Better UK. I had always wanted to get more involved in LGBTQ+ charities as my background is in the women’s sector but I knew for a fact I wanted to diversify my outreach and meet new people in a different sector who are as passionate as I am. I was also slightly hesitant as I had only every worked with strictly Scottish charities, not UK wide ones. However, I took the leap of faith and now here I am! I saw the advert coming up again and again, so I like to believe my social media was trying to tell me something, so I went for it.
I suppose another reason I got involved with It Gets Better UK is because my local pride event in Edinburgh is always so much fun, and I just want to bring that sense of joy and community to everyone.
3. Tell us a bit about your own mental health experiences and being LGBTQ+?
Being a lesbian, as well as living in a patriarchal society has impacted my mental health quite a lot. With societal expectations telling me that I should settle down with a man, it took me a while to realise I didn’t want to do that. Even now, after 3 years of being openly out as a lesbian, compulsory heterosexuality still affects me to this day. It’s unfortunate that it’s just because of the way, I in a society, I have been socialised.
Being LGBTQ+ has also affected my mental health in a way I think everyone person in the LGBTQ+ community can relate to – having to come out to almost everyone you meet, and not knowing how they are going to take it. Even if it is someone you trust, you still don’t know how they’re going to react. As a lesbian, you dread to hear the words “you just haven’t met the right man yet.” as well as a lot of women assuming you are attracted to them and isolating you. It’s hard, but unfortunately, you get used to it.
4. What do you think LGBTQ+ people can learn from your experiences?
I suppose the main takeaway, is that it’s okay to be you. I’m a femme lesbian who is involved in politics – I like to think I break stereotypes by just simply doing what makes me happy and what I’m interested in. Breaking these stereotypes has got me where I am today.
I suppose also that it’s okay to start small. Educating one person to be more inclusive or on LGBTQ+ history will have a bigger affect than you think, because they could pass that education on to someone else. But even if they don’t, you know that you have changed one person’s point of view, and that is good enough.
5. If you had one message for LGBTQ+ people what would it be?
Community is at the heart of being LGBTQ+. Find one that accepts you for who you are, and cherish it, because it is important to remember that you are not alone on this journey.
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