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Alcohol and the LGBTI Community

Certain communities in Scotland suffer from health inequalities around over-consumption of alcohol. LGBTI (Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex) people in Scotland are among them.

Research suggests that LGBTI people are more likely to drink alcohol, and more likely to drink excessively, than the general population (Emslie et al. 2015). Despite limited academic work undertaken on alcohol in the LGBTI community in Scotland, work that has been done has shown that alcohol plays a major role in the social and sexual lives of LGBTI people, was implicated in violence and impaired decision making around sexual risk taking (Coia et al. 2014). Indeed, gay and bi-sexual men in particular are at higher risk of certain sexually transmitted infections and alcohol use can play a role in this. There are numerous social, cultural and environmental factors influencing the increased use of alcohol among LGBTI people – including coping with factors such as marginalisation, discrimination and stigma and escaping from heterosexual social norms (Peralta, 2008, cited in Emslie et al 2015). Alcohol also plays a central role in the commercial gay scene (Drabble, 2000 cited in Emslie et al 2015).

Many LGBTI people will have grown up in an era where their sexual orientation was criminalised or where they were stigmatised and/or bullied for who they are.  Whilst things have improved for LGBTI people in Scotland over the past 20 years or more, we recognise that some people may still be living with traumas or unresolved issues from a time where discrimination, marginalisation or stigma was commonplace at every level of society. Although  things have improved and legal equality has been significantly advanced, we recognise that too many LGBTI people still lead lives where they are daily confronted with homophobia or transphobia, where they don’t feel accepted or comfortable to be themselves without fear of judgement or consequences, be that from friends, family, work colleagues or wider society. Indeed, we know that LGBTI people are more likely than the general population to be affected by mental ill health due to the factors outlined above  – including being more likely to have had suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide or to have self-harmed. It isn’t just LGBTI people who use alcohol as a way of coping with life’s difficulties, over 50% of drinkers in the UK drink to cope with stress – but LGBT people face particular stresses from childhood and early adolescence onwards.

How we are working to make GCA more LGBTI inclusive

In response to these identified community needs we have begun a review of our organisation and practice to ensure we are more LGBTI inclusive. We are working closely with LGBTI organisations and staff members to ensure that the services we provide are LGBTI informed – including through staff training.

Need support?

If you are an LGBTI person and feel that you’d like to talk to someone about your alcohol use, or possibly be supported to cut down on your alcohol consumption or stop altogether, you can self-refer to our counselling team here. If you feel you require support or would like to talk to a counsellor more specifically about issues around your sexual orientation or gender identity, you can get in touch with the following organisations:

If you feel you require support or would like to talk to a counsellor more specifically about issues around your sexual orientation or gender identity, you can get in touch with the following organisations:

LGBT Health and Wellbeing

12 Queen’s Cres, Glasgow G4 9AS
0141 271 2330
LGBT Health and Wellbeing runs a range of services and social groups for LGBT people of all ages. They also offer a counselling service.

For more information, visit their website.

LGBT Youth Scotland

30 Bell Street (3/2), Glasgow G1 1LG
0141 552 7425
LGBT Youth Scotland runs a range of youth groups as well as providing both telephone and online support to young people around their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Visit their website for more information.

Sandyford Clinics

6 Sandyford Place, Glasgow G3 7NB
0141 211 6700
The Sandyford Sexual Health clinics offer counselling services as well as sexual health screenings. You can find out more about the Sandyford Counselling Services here or call Sandyford about counselling on: 0141 211 6700
If you are a Gay or Bi-sexual man and want to talk to someone about your sexual health, arrange for a screening or discuss counselling, the Steve Retson Project offers a specific service for gay and bi-sexual men.
Find out more about the Steve Retson Project here.

You can call the Steve Retson project on: 0141 211 8130

Scottish Equality Network

30 Bernard Street, Edinburgh EH6 6PR
0131 467 6039
The Equality Network aims to bring about equality and improve the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people in Scotland.

Find out more by visiting their website here.

Transgender Alliance Scotland

30 Bernard Street, Edinburgh EH6 6P
0131 467 6039
The Transgender Alliance  assist transgender people, service providers, employers and equality organisations to engage together to improve gender identity and gender reassignment equality, rights and inclusion in Scotland. We strive for everyone in Scotland to be safe and valued whatever their gender identity and gender reassignment status and to have full freedom in their gender expression. They also provide information about local support groups, resources and run a Trans Forum, which welcomes involvement from trans people across Scotland.

Find out more about Transgender Alliance Scotland here.

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