I grew up in a rural town in South Dakota in the 70’s. My family was religious and needless to say, it was not a safe place to be gay. I didn’t actually come out of the closet until I was in my 20’s and living on my own in Utah. Utah is still very conservative and you had to be careful. I decided that I was no longer going to live in a place that discriminated against gay people. That was one of my primary reasons for wanting to move to Europe.
I was excited about moving to Europe because I knew that they were much more liberal and I could just be myself. There would be gay bars and “gayberhoods”, and I could be open at work without worrying about consequences. My perceptions were realised when I moved to Brussels and then even more so when I moved to Amsterdam. Gay marriage was finally allowed in most countries and I married my partner, Stewart, when I was living in Amsterdam.
I was a bit nervous about how gay friendly some of the smaller villages would be in Scotland when we decided to move here. I have travelled to over 70 countries, and I know that there are gay people everywhere. But, I have learned that it’s the general culture and attitude toward gay people that make all of the difference.
I googled “gay bar in Kilmarnock”. The query resulted in one result: Blacks Bar in Kilmarnock. We decided that we would check it out when we had the first opportunity. Well, it turns out that it is not a gay bar. In fact, it’s a bit of a rough place to go if you are not a regular there. But, there are plenty of fun gay bars in Glasgow. There are also some gay couples that live near us.
It is certainly not as open as it is in Amsterdam. But, I would characterise Scotland as gay-friendly. Any place where men wearing kilts must be.