I've noticed a huge amount of my friends with anxiety are being heavily impacted by recent happenings around the world; i.e. terrorist attacks and, more locally, an escalation in hate crime frequency. I'm going to say now that my more conservative readers may want to give this post a miss, or not, if you want to learn a little about how these events are impacting those of us who are considered a little "different".
Now, at no point did I ever think I'd end up discussing my sexuality on this blog, however, tomorrow I'm going to be standing alongside the LGBT community in Belfast for the 3rd year in a row. I'm incredibly excited, I've got my outfit picked out, I've bought hair glitter, I've even dug out the rainbow tutu I had made for me last year. I can't wait.
However, I'm a little more nervous than I have been in previous years. As I watched stories pour in from Orlando earlier in the year, aside from the fact my heart was breaking, I was growing more and more scared. Here's the thing; I find both men and women to be attractive. The mass shooting at Pulse nightclub was a stark reminder that there are people out there who would stop at nothing to see me dead simply because I don't consider gender to be an important factor when considering whether or not I can see myself in a relationship with someone.
I'm not going to get all political here, but what I will say is that my anxiety isn't helped by the fact that I live in the only place in the British Isles where I will be denied the ability to marry my partner should I fall in love with a woman. Admittedly, things have come a long way in a short amount of time, but I can't help but feel like a) there are still politicians sitting in Stormont who would happily rekindle the "Save Ulster from Sodomy" campaign and b) I will never be viewed as equal to the rest of society by almost 50% of our Assembly.
So every time either LGBT+ issues or mental health are discussed in Stormont, I feel a bit of pain, both as a mental health campaigner and as a bisexual woman. Why? Because it's virtually guaranteed that the same people who make remarks like "You don't bring a child up in a homosexual relationship. That a child is far more likely to be abused and neglected..." are the same people who will sit and say that mental health is one of their priorities. How do they think such vitriolic remarks impact on the mental health of people in the LGBT+ community?