'And now – look – Old Scotland is no more.
Gay men kiss at the Parliament’s door.'
Scots Makar Jackie Kay’s poem 'The Long View'sweeps through Scottish history with an eye to how far we’ve come. Looking back lets us see how much progress Scotland has made for LGBTQ+ rights and representation, and how far we still have to go.
The coronavirus restrictions have ruled out looking for the queer past in a physical library or archive this February. Don’t let this stop you investigating some of the mysteries of queer Scottish history from your own home.
Explore queer Scotland
- how did the model for Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray end up working as a priest in Edinburgh?
- did a small Leith policeman really disguise himself as a baby to stop public indecency?
- who tried to use a sheep to intimidate a Victorian lesbian medical pioneer?
- just how homoerotic were a Scottish king’s letters to his favourite courtiers?
- how did a transgender nobleman charm the Scottish country dancing scene in 1960’s Aberdeenshire?
- which bisexual magician claimed to have summoned dinosaurs to guard his Highland estate?
Fantastic online resources from Our Story Scotlandand Queer Scotland are a great place to begin your journey. Here are some more ways to find and enjoy queer stories this LGBT History Month...
- Find out more about poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, and the time they spent in Edinburgh being treated for shellshock during WWI.
- Read the work of artist Maud Sulter whose iconic images and poems were rooted in the black, feminist, and lesbian movements of the 1980s.
- Leaf through Edwin Morgan’s scrapbooks and read the poem he wrote for the opening of the Glasgow Gay and Lesbian Centre in 1995.
In the library
- Register for a free account with the National Library of Scotland for access to a host of eResources you can use from home.
- Browse newspapers from the 1700s to the present day and read stories as they were reported at the time.
- Browse historic images and films in the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network through the same account.
In the archives
- Find out about early lesbian publications and the fight against Section 28 in Glasgow Women’s Library’s online collection. Many documents from the National Archives are available to view online, along with a guide to researching LGBT history in their collections.
- The National Records of Scotland have details of some of their LGBT material online, including a cautionary tale about not carrying a musical instrument when escaping arrest.
- You can even glimpse footage of the Scottish Minorities Group in Edinburgh, including a very 1970’s disco, in the BBC Open Door archive.
In your local area
Walking down your street could bring you closer to queer history than you realise. Perhaps you lived near the Scottish communist journalist who defended homosexuality to Stalin, or close to the site where farmers rallied their tractors to protect their transgender neighbour from nosy reporters. Explore the Queer Scotland LGBT Historical Mapsand The Digital Transgender Archive map , or take an audio tour of Glasgow’s queer heritage with Glasgow Women’s Library.
There are plenty of exciting ways to get involved with queer history in Scotland. Visit the oral history project OurStory Scotlandto contribute your voice to their archive and help preserve the experiences of others. Lavender Menace, which started in 1982 as Scotland’s first queer bookshop, has returned as a queer book archive. Join them and add your collection to their archive .
Reading is a fantastic way to observe, learn, celebrate and reflect on LGBTQ+ history and progress. Scottish Book Trust has several LGBTQ+ inclusive book lists to get you started, many of which include Scottish perspectives. Immerse yourself and discover queer Scotland in these incredible stories.
Books about LGBTQ+ history