Alcohol’s ‘centrality’ within Scotland’s LGBT community

This was a blog post written by Alcohol Policy UK to accompany a new SHAAP report out of Scotland looking at drinking and it’s ‘centrality’ within the LGBT community.

SHAAP LGBT report 2015A new report has explored the role of alcohol within the Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgender (LGBT) communities in Scotland, detailing the ‘centrality’ of alcohol and the strong role it plays in identity. Although little is known about transgender people’s drinking, LGBT groups generally experience higher levels of alcohol misuse but feel less able to access services.

Download The social context of LGBT people’s drinking in Scotland [PDF]

The study was undertaken by researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), funded by Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP). The research aimed to explore the social context of drinking among LGBT people in Scotland based on a series of focus groups which identified ‘the centrality of alcohol on the commercial gay scene’.

In particular the research identified the ‘habitual promotion’ of alcopops, spirits and shots in gay venues, and peer pressure to drink across the lifecourse. Drinking alcohol was found to be an important part of identity construction, whilst social media was used extensively to organize and record socializing and drinking.

A key finding also identified that respondents did not appear to be concerned about being asked about their drinking in routine health consultations – recently a briefing from the LGB&T Partnership & PHE called for further use of alcohol brief intervention amongst LGBT people.

Lead researcher, GCU’s Dr Carol Emslie, said:

“Drinking is central to the commercial gay scene and the alcohol industry is increasingly marketing their products directly to LGBT consumers. We need to make sure there are more places in Scotland where LGBT people can meet to socialise without alcohol, as well as working towards a culture where all groups in society find it acceptable to drink moderately, or indeed to choose not to drink at all.”

Last year a report was released calling for more inclusive services to support LGBT people in England. It followed a five-year study by the Lesbian & Gay Foundation (The LGF) in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) into drug and alcohol use among LGB people, finding significant substance dependency problems in the community.

‘Binge drinking’ was also found to be high across LGB groups, with 34% of males and 29% of females reporting binge drinking at least once or twice a week. Like the Scottish findings, access to treatment services was also be found to be a challenge owing to fears over stigma and perceived inability to deal with other related needs including mental health.

Once again Scotland’s comprehensive approach to alcohol impresses me greatly.  Your thoughts?

Edited to add: 8th April 2016 One of the expressed views from within the male gay community the UK

Alcohol and the gay community

If you’ve perused any gay media over the last couple of years, you might have come to the conclusion that the greatest singular challenge gay men face today is chemsex and its impact on sexual health. While chemsex may warrant the coverage and debate it generates, by being such a dominant story it risks drawing attention away from other issues. One of those other issues is alcohol | FS Mag, UK