Life Outside The Lines By Susan Douglas-Scott CBE, Chair of ILF Scotland

There are significant dates in the calendar which create opportunities for shining a light on LGBT, disability and women’s issues. These movements and moments are vital parts of a critical information patchwork for anyone seeking to take action for equality.  

On the 8th of March every year through International Women’s Day we make a collective plea to challenge bias and forge a gender equal world.  This is something I embrace wholeheartedly. I believe it is so important to support women to fulfil their potential and we can do this by coming together, sharing our stories and helping one another.

My whole life, personal and professional, has been about being visible as a person who is categorised as one at risk of exclusion.  This began for me as a disabled teenager and with hindsight my struggle to access the world of education, work and relationships meant I did not deal with the issues of my sexuality.  Also back in the 60s,70s and 80s there was very little in the public domain about lesbian lifestyles, certainly none that I came across.  So my feelings went unattended to my personal expense.

So for me today being a role model is important.  Our visible LGBT family is especially important for anyone who has not yet been able to come out to themselves or to others.  Both of these steps I found challenging!

Despite the difficulty I faced, once I finally came out as a lesbian at 36 years of age, I embraced this with the same passion I had for raising awareness of disability and achieving my career goals.  I became out and proud both as a disabled woman, as a lesbian.  I am also proud to be a ‘woman around the board table’ as Chair of ILF Scotland, NHS Golden Jubilee and more recently with the third sector advocacy organisation VoiceAbility.

I very much believe that together we are stronger as a community when we are a community which celebrates difference and diversity.  When marginalised people in society thrive, I believe we all do, and it is time to start working towards an inclusive society where everyone including disabled lesbian women can succeed.

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