Hiding lesbian magazines

Rachel remembers how she lied to her parents about receiving lesbian magazines through the post and how she moved away to polytechnic where she attempted to join the Lesbian and Gay Society.

Duration 03:26


R: And in Spare Rib there was an advert for a magazine, like, um, I don’t know what it was but anyway I sent for that, and I told my mum and dad that it was a prospectus for university, that I’d be getting some prospectuses but actually it was this lesbian magazine [laughs].

So I’d rush up, when I, you know, ‘oh it’s a prospectus for a university’, ‘Oh can we have a look?’ ‘No, no, I’m just, I don’t know which one I’m looking at yet’, and it was this – it was full of lesbian poetry this first edition. And I kept it for years, I think I’ve still got it somewhere. And so that was my first, like kind of, lesbian magazine, I suppose. And it had pen friends in and things, you know contacts that you could write to. So I used to write to some people in the oldy-fashionedy days.

INTERVIEWER: And do you still speak to those people?

R: Sorry?

INTERVIEWER: Do you speak to those people, or did you ever know where people were?

R: No, no I didn’t. No it was just pen-pals, kinda thing. And of course I lost interest because I didn’t really, I didn’t know, they were too far away, or and then when I went to poly, I decided that, because I was very right, uh – I was very left-wing when I was at school, and I decided that I wanted to go to a univer- I didn’t want to go to a university because it was too middle-class, right. And I had this thing about – I went to an ex-mining college in Wales, because, you know with a gritty kind of, um, a really stupid reason now to go. It was for this certain course and it was only in three places. One of them was in Wales at this ex-mining college, so I went there: Poly of Wales, Polytechnic of Wales.

INTERVIEWER: What did you study?

R: I studied communications, which is like psychology and linguistics and media. But it was quite a new course then, in the ‘80s. And there was only – I think there was one in Keele, or somewhere like that, and I didn’t really wanna go there. And weirdly, my sister was living in Cardiff then, so I thought, ‘oh, I’ll be near’. And in a way it was quite a long way from home cuz I wanted to get away from Halifax.

I mean Halifax was to me, then, it was a dump, you know. I just wanted to get out of it. It was covered in soot, you know. There was nowt going on. And I didn’t really – I just wanted to get far away as possible. I shouldda gone to Leeds University or I shouldda gone to a city, you know. I couldn’t have picked a more quieter place to come out than a tiny mining village in Wales, do you know what I mean? [laughs]

And also I had a really thick Yorkshire accent and I just didn’t dare open my mouth. I was totally shy, you know. So even lecturers, I thought they were all really posh. So anyway I made a group of friends and everything and then I saw a sign saying ‘Lesbian and Gay Society’ and I thought, ‘oh wow’. And I’d come out sorta to my friends maybe in the second year, really. Not so much the first year. Or was it the first year? I can’t remember. But I saw this sign and my friend said she’d give me a Cadbury’s Creme Egg if I went along [laughs]. So I went along and it was a total disaster. The guy who was running it was straight, and nobody else turned up!