Moving to Marsden and dealing with homophobia

Marion talks about her move to the village of Marsden in the early 2000s. She remembers feeling vulnerable and having to deal with homophobia but she also describes how her daughter helped her to settle in.

Duration 05:45


M: I, well – when, when I first moved to Marsden we, we did get some anti-gay... shit, if you like. You know, yeah, there was –

INTERVIEWER: What happened?

M: Well, there was this local, group of local lads, who were gonna [pause] – trying to intimidate me, and actually [pause] they were, it was a bit too close for comfort, but my very good friend Nell Griffiths who’s now a Labour councillor... in the Colne Valley, she kinda, she, she, she kind of... said, ‘right, we’ve got to do something about this Marion’. And so she – we, we planned a... an impromptu kind of visit to said lads’ parents’ house. So it – Nell and I turned up, knocked on the door, kind of, with an air of, air and look of authority and a clipboard. And [pause] we got into their living room, sat their parents down with said child, and frightened the living daylights out of them. Not aggressively, but kind of professionally, if you like. You know, ‘you do realise that what you’re doing is against the law, and that we can inform the police’, et cetera et cetera. So for me personally, it was great, my, my wonderful friend Nell [pause] help me, and he – they – cos I was feeling quite vulnerable, so – cos my daughter was only eight, and Maria was commuting back and forth, to Leeds, and a, a lot of the time I was on my own with my daughter who was eight and sometimes I felt quite vulnerable, cos I knew those lads were... you know, just at the end of the street. I mean, sometimes I would sit with a crowbar next to where, at my kitchen table, having dinner. You know, whilst I fed Tara and maybe her friend’d come round for tea, and I felt vulnerable enough to sit and, sit with my crowbar next to the door in case I needed it. [Laughs] Anyway, that stopped after we had that visit, to that, that young lad’s house. And that was good. So, word on the street... in Marsden was... don’t mess with Marion, or her friend Nell Griffiths, they’ll come and get you. So, the youths started to behave. And my daughter Tara Richardson, at the local primary school [pause] She didn’t take no shit either. Or any shit, rather. You know, she [pause] on first meeting anyone, Tara, when she was that age, she’d say, ‘yes, I’m Tara Richardson, and I have two mums’. Very proud of it. Tara fell into, in with the kind of, small group of very good friends which she, she still has to this day, she’s 26 now. And through Tara forging really good relationships with really good kids, I then met more people in Marsden who are also my friends now. And I felt less isolated and... well I didn’t feel isolated cos I had my good friends Nell and Roz – when you move to Marsden, it’s like, ‘uh oh, spot the incomer!’, you know. But after, after one two years, I had locals who’d live there all their life saying to me ‘Marion, it’s like you’ve lived here all your life’. And I said, ‘well, I did grow up in a small village so I know what it’s like, just after a wee while’. You know, but you feel vulnerable... going to a wee village, even if it’s not kind of terribly posh or anything, you do, you do feel vulnerable as a, as a lesbian, as a gay person. Cos you’re just expecting... you’re expecting grief all the time, you know, and – whether it’s verbal or physical, you know, and we all know that. Even though I’m 55, you know, we still have to watch over our shoulder all the time, and, you know, you’re on the defensive all the time, even though I’m happy with myself, you know, there’s still the potential for the outside world or strangers or anybody, to, be aggressive towards you. So you’re on the, on the defensive aren’t you, we all walk about with a... kind of a shell about us, cos we have to keep ourselves safe, and be ready, in the event of having to, to either physically defend yourself or verbally. It’s – that’s, that’s... something that is in our... psyche, as gay people, you know... yeah.

INTERVIEWER: Did you – you then moved out of Marsden -

M: Just last week, last week.

INTERVIEWER: Yes, and what was that like then?

M: We moved from a small house in Marsden to a, a lovely house, in Slaithwaite, which I’ve struggled to give up with, over the few years. Yeah, we lived there for five years, lovely gardens, fantastic views across the Colne Valley, right next to the on the canal. Marsden, Marsden and Slaithwaite are incredible because they’re called, what’s called Transition Towns and they’re very unusual in that they have the canal between Leeds and Manchester going through them, you know, so it’s very spectacular, it’s very, very...pretty. Kind of, almost idyllic. A bit like Hebden Bridge, but it’s much more real. There’s less yummy, yummy mummies in Marsden and Slaithwaite, it’s more, more affordable, so you get...all – you get, much, yeah – there’s more chance of meeting local characters who’ve lived there for years, which is fantastic. You know,’s – that’s really important to me. People. Place. Landscape. Belonging.