FEBRUARY is Heart Month and LGBT History month, both of which shine a bright spotlight on memories of my mother.

I, like many others, pull from life experience to help inform personal and professional decisions.

Part of the reason I am an activist for LGBTQI rights is because of the need I see all around for people to be educated and accepting of what is often othered and shunned, or not acknowledged at all.

The continuing harm to LGBT people in our society by damaging rhetoric and laws created in a bygone era is still in play.

I have often spoken of growing up in the 1970s and 80s in a non-conventional home, my mum in a lesbian relationship, and the ignorance from a society that brought bullying and psychological harm to myself.

Yes, we have come so far from then, but often it feels like two steps forward and one step back, particularly last week when I posted on social media and noted reactions which frustrate and harm progression.

As well as growing up in a same-sex relationship home, I experienced my mother dying suddenly of a heart attack when she was only 49.

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I only this past week gave a speech in the Scottish Parliament about this, in a members’ business debate brought to the Chamber by fellow MSP Paul McLennan to mark Heart Month, which is dedicated to raising awareness of heart conditions.

My mum’s death was a trauma for her family and beyond, something which left us completely knocked off our feet. Over the years I have tried to understand why it happened and why heart attacks were the biggest killer of women in Scotland, until being overtaken in recent years by dementia.

I have several theories, and I am glad to see these beginning to be brought into the front of conversations around heart disease and women’s health. Particularly around menopause.

So, as you can imagine, LGBT History Month and Heart Month, bring up strong memories and make me resolve to do and be better in these areas and to push for change.

Being a politician, I, of course, highlight these issues on my social media. I share my speeches, comments, articles and everything I can to let people know what I am doing and to raise awareness. The sharing of my work is vitally important to being as transparent as I can as an elected representative.

I enjoy interacting with people who comment and this doesn’t mean we have to agree. I wouldn’t like to be in the echo chamber that creates.

But why, why must the LGBT posts attract some of the most horrible comments and demands?

Not only that, but I will be “told off” for highlighting these things rather than doing something else. Not once did this happen with my Heart Month posts or the pothole posts.

So why is it the equalities posts that get this kind of horrid attention?

In my remit as an MSP, I sit on two committees – the Equalities Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee, and the Rural Affairs and Islands Committee.

Again, I only see the most aggressive or passive-aggressive comments and kickback from people on anything regarding my work on the Equalities Committee.

This should be a massive red flag, a warning that we are still in a society begrudging a whole community in our country an equal playing field, even down to begrudging attention on a Facebook post.

Why should LGBT issues still have to be the lowest priority for some, who would want to see LGBT people’s needs kicked not just into the long grass but out of the park completely?

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I had discussions with some who felt LGBT history and inclusive education shouldn’t be happening. I was asked if I had never questioned my gender at school and if talking about gender was appropriate as a child at school…

Well no, I didn’t question it, because I am cisgendered, but I acknowledged it, I knew I was a girl.

Are we saying that boys/girls and their differences were never spoken of? What nonsense – of course they were. We shouldn’t be so privileged to think if we didn’t experience something then it’s not a valid experience that somebody else has had.

That’s outrageous. I wish at school there had been an acknowledgement that lesbians existed and that they are a normal part of a diverse society.

That wouldn’t have just eased the anxieties in my mind, it would have ensured my peers were more educated and perhaps would not have bullied or teased me regarding my home life.

It would have also helped me on my personal relationship journey instead of hindering it through fear of repercussions.

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When I do have these conversations with those opposed to my stance, I almost immediately sense there is a sexual connotation to what the person disagreeing has to say.

If you do this, please stop seeing LGBT issues through a sex lens. This was one of the most disturbing factors of the bullying I received at school.

A girl in primary school being asked by peers and their grown adult parents how my mum would have sex.

Or the disgusting remarks from straight men asking if I would give my mum their numbers as they always wanted to try a lesbian.

To you all, you are the problem and you should be utterly ashamed of yourselves.

I will celebrate both LGBT History Month and Heart Health Month this February as tackling both issues will save lives and reduce trauma. They are not mutually exclusive.

If you feel frustrated at topics of conversation and want to know why they are topics, talk to those who have lived it.

Let’s move forward with those two steps without the step back.