Settling into Hebden Bridge

Dawn talks about moving to Hebden Bridge and feeling like a 'baby dyke all over again' as she settled in to the community.


This interview clip is provided in the format of a written transcript, which can be accessed by clicking the button below marked ‘READ THE TRANSCRIPT’. 


DAWN: So, I’ve lived here – yeah, I’ve lived here 18 years, and I went to university in Leeds, and met my partner who then became my wife, and… did the whole stereotypical thing, ‘Ooh, let’s get married and have babies – oh, we don’t want to raise them in Leeds, let’s move somewhere in the countryside but where it’s still safe to be lesbians, and where it’s safe to raise our child, and they won’t get, kind of, homophobic abuse in schools, and where we can go to the GP and kind of go, yes I’m pregnant and I’m a lesbian and they won’t sort of, have kittens’. So, so our choices were really staying somewhere around Leeds, or moving to Brighton or moving to Hebden. And Brighton wasn’t practical because of work, and we looked at places around Leeds, but there kind of wasn’t anywhere that we could afford to live in, in Chapel Allerton [laughs]. So, that was, that was kind of the choice. And I’m originally from Cumbria, so I quite like the hills and the rural-ness. So we ended up in Hebden Bridge.

INTERVIEWER: So what was it like when you first moved here then?

DAWN: It was really interesting. I think, it was, the first time that I’d lived amongst so many lesbians, but it was also quite odd because moving here at 22, I was one of the youngest around. And there were lots of lesbian groups that I joined, like the lesbian walking group and the lesbian bridge club. And most of the women were a couple of decades older than me, and… yeah, it was… kind of like, being, sort of… a baby dyke all over again. And it was interesting because acceptance was quite hard in some ways. Acceptance both because I was young – my partner’s ten years older than me, and so everybody related to her – but also, I… was very femme-presenting, probably even more so than I am now. And that’d been an issue occasionally, kind of coming out in Leeds and kind of, you know, being stopped going into all the gay clubs because I had long hair and was wearing a skirt. It was like, ‘do you know what kind of club this is?’ ‘Yes, I’ve been coming here for three years!’ [Laughs]. But moving to Hebden, there was a similar kind of vibe from some of the older lesbians about, ‘well, you’re not a proper lesbian if you’re wearing a skirt and having long hair’.

And then having a child here was also interesting because I had a boy. And that was… by some people seen as sort of letting the side down, to have a boy and not a girl. So, there’s sort of this whole thing about it being very accepting of the fact that you were a lesbian, but then within some of the lesbian circles, it can be quite cliquey if you’re not the right type of lesbian. So…

INTERVIEWER: OK. So tell me a little bit about – you mentioned the situation with your, with your sons. So what – can you say a bit more about that?

DAWN: Yeah… I think, partly because at the time I was hanging out with a lot of older lesbians who’d maybe chose not to have children, or who’d had children many years ago… and then… sort of having children, I, I ended up moving in different circles so it ended up being, like, the lesbian parents group and things like that, and that was, that was different, that was quite safe. But at the time, hanging out with maybe some of the, original lesbians who’d settled in the valley, who were in their 50s plus, it was [pause] – I think it was seen – and I do see the kind of dilemma – you know, it was around the time that civil partnerships came in, we were civilly partnered. [Pause] Not – maybe a year after they’d been introduced, and it was kind of seen as settling for the heteronormative in terms of, kind of going down that route of getting married, having children, kind of… buying into that patriarchal culture, rather than kind of, being radical and living in communal housing, kind of doing that stuff.