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Time for Scotland to 'come out' as independent

Scottish National Party member Stewart McDonald likens country's vote for independence to coming out as gay

Time for Scotland to 'come out' as independent

Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country? That is the big question facing Scots in 2014. Some have already made up their mind but the majority of Scots probably don’t quite know how they’ll cast their vote as yet; they’re there to be convinced.

There are many legitimate questions that Scots have. What will our defence situation be? Will an independent Scotland be in the EU? Can our economy continue to grow if we are independent? All legitimate questions that will be answered.

For what it’s worth I think that Scotland should be independent; indeed I think we will become independent.

The process between now and then requires some soul searching from Scots. Can we really do it? What will others say? How will they react? How will life be for us after we become independent? Are we up to the job of being our own country? Questions not dissimilar to those I asked myself when deciding to come out.

Naturally you worry. You worry that others might not like it, that your friends will desert you, your family will disown you and that you just can’t take the pressure of what might follow.

However for most of us it has turned out alright. Coming out to my friends and family, and accepting myself that I was gay, was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. Sure getting to that point was difficult, and at times seemed impossible, but would I go back to pretending I was something I wasn’t? Not a chance.

Coming out opened a whole load of new doors and opportunities for me. I met new people, went to new places, tried different things and my life is much richer for it.

I believe that it’s time for Scotland to come out. It’s time we take a look at ourselves in the mirror and accepted that we can be better as a country; better if we were independent. Most people want to be treated equally and that’s what I want for Scotland; for us to be treated the same as every other country in the world.

Being independent will open new doors for Scotland. It will take the nation to places it otherwise wouldn’t get to and allow us to make a renewed contribution to Europe and the wider world. Being independent brings with it new rights, but it also brings responsibilities and yes, I believe that Scotland is up to the job of being a responsible member of the family of nations.

I remember when I was in my late teens I would occasionally do something that I thought might drop the hint to my family that I was gay. I would get sudden bursts of confidence that lead to me blasting Shania Twain from my bedroom or mentioning in passing that I had gone to a gay bar with a friend in the hope that they might ask me so that I didn’t have to bring it up myself. However there comes a point where you work up the courage to accept that you can’t continue to suppress what you really are for much longer.

Scotland has done the same. We’ve had the outbursts of confidence that have lead to a Scottish Parliament. We’ve accepted for ourselves that we are a nation and now we have to behave like one. Sure there’ll be false starts and setbacks along the way, but that’s life.

The decision in 2014 is simple: are we to move forward as a responsible nation or do we continue with what might seem like the safe and easy option – knowing the whole time that we could be so much better?

Stewart McDonald is an active member of the Scottish National Party and was a candidate for the party in the local elections in Glasgow. Follow him on twitter: @StewartMcDonald

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