As I’ve mentioned a few times, I (Carley) studied at the University of St Andrews. I was there for four years, and the little town still feels like home to me; I love that little bubble very much. It’s beautiful – and small – you can walk from one end of the town (the beach) to the other end (the woods at the end of Lade Braes Walk) in about an hour or so. It was also the place where I came out; between my friends, the liberal atmosphere and the wonderful St Andrews LGBT Society, being gay in St Andrews never really felt like it was a big deal. To anyone.
That’s not to say that homophobia is never experienced or never reported in St Andrews. I have had friends who have had abuse shouted at them in the ‘Bop’ (the weekly disco) due to their sexuality (or their perceived sexuality). I also know there were complaints about the shouting by certain members of the audience at an event in my final year. But there was almost always this feeling of not simple tolerance or acceptance of LGBT identifying people, but pride. The university, and many of the students (even the straight ones) seemed proud of how LGBT friendly the town was. I never had an issue with saying – “This is my girlfriend” to anyone in the town – and I even think I ‘came out’ to the Principle once.
So when, this week I read reports of how the LGBT Society (Saints LGBT) had been sent an abusive, homophobic email, I was really quite upset. The email criticised a recent event put on by the society (Debate and Talk: The Biblical Evidence that Jesus Was Gay) and said that the society was ‘a colossal waste of funding’. This latter part, particularly, really hit me hard. The LGBT Society in St Andrews was a real home to me in my last two years – some of my closest friends were met there, and I would not have had the courage to come out to my friends back home and family without the support I found there. Hell, Stacey and I first met at a party after an LGBT society event. So saying that society, that very friendly anfd helpful and loving group of people is a waste of university money is just plain wrong.
I have to say, I was on the LGBT Society committee in my fourth year – and you know what, it’s really, really hard to run a society – let alone one which caters to such a broad group of people as the LGBT Soc does. So I’d just like to say that I think the guys at Saints LGBT are doing a great job – both at running a society, and responding to what homophobia is found in the little town. They have my full support.
You can read the Saints LGBT response to the email on The Stand.Carley