In years to come we will hang our heads in shame at how little outrage was expressed at homophobic bullying in the same way we view racisst bullying as unacceptable today, where as once racism was generally accepted. Homophobia has a long way to go before it is considered as damaging and as serious as racism.
As someone who grew up in the highlands, I’ll agree it’s terrifying to come out there. When I was in school, there’s no way in hell I’d have come out. It wasn’t until I left school that I told my closest friend. The north, and moreso the further north you go, is quite a homophobic climate in general.
Where I grew up there wasn’t even a proper gay bar, we got a corner of the upstairs of a bar. I suppose that’s something, but there was a massive stigma attached to actually being seen in that corner of the bar.
There’s a huge stigma against trans people up north too, worse than what homosexuals encounter.
I’m not surprised it’s under-reported. It’s horrific, for sure, we’ve still got a long way to go. That said though, it has been getting better over the years. Last time I visited, I held my boyfriend’s hand in the street and didn’t get a single word of abuse, so, it’s improving, slowly
Maybe many incidents are reported as simple “bullying”, rather than homophobic bullying. Closeted teens may request such a classification to avoid further bullying.
I’ve lived both in the rural and urban Highlands through childhood.
Scotland’s cultural attitudes are very nuanced for its size and population. I live in Edinburgh now and 99% of the time there is no bother when I walk the length of the city holding my boyfriend’s hand. The odd stare or group of lads who seem to be randomly laughing, but certainly no abuse. Take me back to Inverness though, and I wouldn’t dream of doing that. Furthermore, I had to explain to my English boyfriend that his idea of a getaway to the Northern Isles may be a bad idea if he had planned for us to be very romantic or share a bed together.
I’m aware from teacher friends/family that in general there is more diverse pupils in Highland schools than there was when I was attending 5/6 years ago….
It’s becoming acceptable to be gay, as long as you conform to a camp stereotype. I’d bet that there’s no openly gay rugby-playing lads in any Highland school.
Many might argue that there’s not many sporty guys or girly girls who come out in London comprehensives either, but I really do think outdoorsy places like the Highlands, North Wales and N.I. have a greater propensity to allow for a very narrow social definition of LGBT people, whilst being threatening or disbelieving toward anyone who they don’t ‘perceive’ as being gay to look at or speak to. When I was a teenager and final-year pupil, and finding my way around all the usual-suspect sites and apps, I remember my own disbelief at just how many farmhands etc were my age and were gay (but TERRIFIED of anyone knowing, to an extent I never found when I moved down here). It’s a cultural blindspot/hypocrisy that’s so deeply engrained.
I am not belittling racist bullying in any way, it is disgusting. But if you are black and suffer racist bullying you are probably going home to a black family where you feel safe and normal.
If you are gay and suffer gay bullying you are more than likely going home to an anti-gay hostile environment or at the very least one where you don’t feel as if you would get guaranteed support.
This HAS to be a situation where hopelessness and suicide are far more likely.