Horse McDonald tells Lorraine Wilson about 10 things that changed her life...

1 Being abducted

BEING abducted means I have lived with an unspoken fear and a survival instinct at my core.

I was at primary school, probably about the age of seven, but I don’t remember the whole story. It was covered in 2016, in the play Careful, but I grew up with shame. I think I’ve had a thread in my life of having to conceal myself.

It was a long time before I knew the whole story. I spoke to my mum before she passed away in 2007 and she told me everything. I dare not say it here because it would probably identify the person.

I would really love to knock at his door and ask him if he has any understanding of what he did.

2 Secondary schooldays

THERE are two things from here. One was my first love, albeit an unrequited one. It came with so much excitement and joy, but I couldn’t tell anyone because of fear or rejection.

The other might connect with the early part of my life. I was androgynous -today I would probably be called nonbinary – but in hindsight I think I chose that to remain in some sort of control. I grew into a big character – I would sit in the toilets, smoking and playing guitar.

With all that came being chased, being attacked – and usually by boys who were a few years younger than me.

Despite all that I would never not be myself. I couldn’t.

3 Angela McAlinden

MEETING Angela McAlinden absolutely changed the course of what I did musically. We wrote together for more than 15 years – I was her Elton and she was my Bernie.

We met when the first band I was in was looking for new members, but it became clear that we were absolutely on the same page. We started off as inexperienced and scrappy to real songwriting over the years. But even when I listen back to those first cassettes I can still hear that excitement.

We never followed anyone else’s path and with those songs and my voice under our arms we set off out into the world. And we worked very, very hard as two female musicians fronting a band when that was unusual – it still is.

Angela still inspires me and I actually think she’s one of Scotland's great unsung writers.

4 The Tube

IT was a massive thing it was to perform on The Tube. It was totally unsolicited too - they heard a tape and called us out of the blue.

We were really just thrown on. The soundcheck was the camera check – and there were cameras everywhere! My mouth was so dry and I could hardly sing. However, it seemed that a lot of people were calling into the programme after the weekend asking about THAT band.

At that point though we had no management and we really weren’t equipped to “go”. It was a bit of a lost opportunity but what a great experience for us.

It did have a huge audience and when we were back in Scotland people did start to look and point at me in the street. Not for bad reasons either.

5 Signing a publishing deal

FOR us writing songs was almost more important than performing. Again it was unsolicited – tapes just seem to find their way to people at that time.

I have to be honest; it wasn’t a great deal and it only ended about eight years ago but at the time there was the absolutely glorious thrill of being recognised for the songs.

6 Signing a record deal, making the first record and women in music

WE had so much support from Sally Perryman, who ended up at the top level of EMI. She corralled all these labels to come up and see us at a showcase in Glasgow and we eventually signed with EMI.

Again, it wasn’t a brilliant record deal, but we were just so desperate to get moving and I wouldn’t change it because of all the brilliant people we dealt with, particularly the women.

Alison Donald was so supportive personally in those early days. I was having a tough time during the recording of the first album and she was a great presence in the studio. From having no experience to being thrown into a studio like this and expecting to make records at the level of ones you’ve listened to all your life.

Also at that time there were no other out lesbians in the commercial music industry. The record label knew about me and that I wouldn’t compromise on image. Again I remained genderless as a way of steering myself through nightmare scenarios of sexism, homophobia and misogyny.

Throughout my life there have been women who have been an inspiration or other kind of a touchstone, not somebody to kind of lean on.

7 A beautiful daughter

I NEED your understanding here. It’s all I have to say, and it’s all I can say, but I can’t make a list like this without including her.

8 The death of my parents

MY mum died first on September 30, 2007, and my dad died six weeks later on November 15.

We all have to die of course but the downward spiral that came with the wretched inevitability of my mum having ovarian cancer that she wasn’t coming back from – and then looking after them.

It took me years to get over that period and it still feels like a bruise that doesn’t disappear. There was a lot of anger and rage because there was a period of around two years when something could have been done.

When my mum was very ill in a little cottage hospital I had a moment with my dad that felt like something we had never experienced as a father and daughter. That journey to my parents passing felt like part of my overall journey.

9 The long road to change

IN 2014 when the Equal Marriage Vote passed in Scotland, it was a huge moment. For most of my life I have lived in parallel or tandem with the rest of the world in a fight for LGBT plus rights. I’ve lived through society being anti-gay and the upsurge in hate towards homosexuality because of Aids.

Then there was Section 28, when I was actually afraid that I couldn’t stand in the stage and be myself. It was back to that message – underlining that my sort wasn’t welcome.

Then after that vote in the Scottish Parliament – a moment I will never forget. When it was passed, every single person in the chamber turned to look at us in the gallery and applauded. I still find that very emotional because it felt like we were welcome for the first time.

10 The portrait

THE fact that Roxana Halls’s portrait of me was acquired for the nation and now hangs in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is something so significant that it’s almost impossible to put into words, It doesn’t represent just me. As well as Roxana’s struggles with the arts world, it’s also important because in the gallery the majority of the works are of or by men.

I’m older, I’m a woman, I’m a lesbian and that portrait being in that gallery represents so much more than just me.

I never saw anyone who looked like I did when I was a child, but I hope that any wee girl or wee boy seeing that portrait will get a sense that they can be whoever they want to be.

See Horse live:

April: Aberdeen Lemon Tree, 23. Motherwell Theatre, 28. Stirling MacRobert Centre, 29. Inverness Eden Court, 30. Also Dundee Rep Theatre, May 25. Glasgow Kings Royal Glasgow, June 5. Edinburgh Queens Hall (with strings), June 24.