Pat Baillie, Out & Equal Director of Training & Professional Development, will be contributing to the Out & Equal blog while she is on the road for a month, traveling and training. Pat was in London for the Global LGBT Workplace Summit, which took place July 5 & 6, 2012, and now is in Scotland.
I finally got a chance to see a sunset, and it was at Ulg, on the Isle of Skye. We had a great dinner at a local pub, and had a long talk with the owner, who wanted to know all about what I did. He was really interested, and continued on with the discussion as if he had LGBT folks in there every day. Definitely could get used to this openness in the US. I’m still aware obviously, and keep an eye out for folks who might not be as accepting, but it is amazing to see so much acceptance this far away from major cities.
We headed out via ferry to the Isle of Eigg. It was a three hour trip, and we stopped at the Isle of Muck on the way. The water was crystal clear and the sun was mostly out. Eigg has a population of about 75 people, and they all have about four jobs they do. The woman who ran the B& B we stayed at also runs the island store, and they care for their croft (a farm that is designed to provide for them and a bit more). Eigg is a very environmental conscious island, and it is home to beach called the “singing beach”. We weren’t sure what to expect, but it was a small, beautiful beach with white, white sand. When you walk on it, it actually squeaks more than sings, but it’s an amazing sound. We were on the beach for two hours and never saw another person. We hiked back through some of the crofts with sheep, heather, ferns and quiet. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip!
Saturday we did our last day of driving back down to Glasgow. We went through mountains with fields and valleys between high peaks that went on for miles, and then we drove around Loch Lomond. On the way down, we found the bridge where they filmed part of Harry Potter and the train that was used for the Hogwarts train. The bridge is at Glenfinnan Viaduct and we had checked the train schedule and took pictures of it as it went over the bridge. For those HP aficionados, this is the bridge where the dementers attacked the Harry on the train. The view of Loch Shiel (black lake) and location of Hogwarts (at least where the castle down in England was graphically placed on this loch was located) was also beautiful, and you could see where J.K. Rowling got some of her inspiration. Scotland is a very open, undeveloped country and the resources here give you pause on what would be possible! There are signs of clear cut forestry and strip mining,but overall there seems to be a growing awareness of this not being the way.
We did some much needed laundry last night and set off Sunday to explore Glasgow. This is the first time we have taken a city tour bus, and it was a nice break to leave the driving to the locals. The weather turned cold again and we got some rain, but there was still lots to see. The architecture is amazing and reflects all different periods in Glasgow. As we took the bus tour, we went by a little bar with a rainbow flag that was named Drouthy’s! Of course we had to stop in and have lunch. It took me back to my first blog about teaching in New Orleans and the man who was in the class told me he was a friend of Dorthy’s. Here we have come full circle, so many miles away, and the connections keep happening.
We then went into Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art and saw an exhibition by Matthew Buckingham. Buckingham uses the slide-show format to tell the story of Charlotte Wolff, a Jewish pioneer of social medicine. In Berlin, in the thirties, she was arrested by the Gestapo for dressing as a man and released only by a fluke when an officer recognized her as his wife’s doctor. She fled to Paris and returned to Berlin in the seventies. It is a story that crossed generations and history, and touched a chord of finding our histories and celebrating who we are and what we can become. When we looked at the partners board for the Gallery, there were at least five LGBT groups involved. A very impressive showing of community in Glasgow to advance equality.
It’s our last night in Scotland! We are going to do a bit more touring during the day and then fly to Ireland Monday night! Thanks Scotland, it’s been a trip and thanks for showing yourself to us!