Why are lesbians no longer welcome at Pride?

The lesbian group Get The L Out UK, founded to protest gender ideology and the pressure on same-sex attracted women to date trans women, joined Pride Cymru yesterday to make their voices heard amidst a sea of hostility. Ever since the trans movement decided that lesbians who reject sleeping with trans women are somehow morally deficient, same-sex attracted women have been harassed, defamed and abused in the name of trans equality. Get the L Out represent those old-fashioned lesbians that reject the penis and all that is attached to it. As a lesbian that came out in the Life on Mars days of the 1970s, when I was told, on

In love with the lodger

Champion Hill, Camberwell, 1922. A mother and daughter, stripped of their menfolk by the Great War, struggle to make ends meet in their genteel villa. Servantless, Mrs Wray keeps up appearances while her daughter Frances confronts the reality of hands-and-knees housework. Reluctantly, they advertise for ‘paying guests’, and are rewarded with Leonard and Lilian Barber, who are young, noisy, sexy and vulgar, with a whiff of the music-hall about them. This is perfect territory for Sarah Waters. Women reshaping their lives without men, social barriers dismantled through economic necessity, notions of respectability challenged by the world convulsion of the preceding years. It’s a setting in which she can explore the

My favourite failed podcasts

The promise of the internet was supposed to be thus: you could be your own bizarre, inappropriate self, and you would find a community of the likewise bizarre and inappropriate. You put yourself out there, and you will find what you consider unique or intolerable to be mundane and perfectly within the bounds of acceptable behaviour. But look, some of us went online, we said our things, and the internet responded: what the hell is your problem, truly why would you say something like that? There are a lot of reasons online projects fail, from lack of funds to real life intruding on your time to realising you just don’t

What’s happened to all the lesbians?

As a proud resident of Sussex, I had to laugh when I heard that Facebook had threatened to ban references to Devil’s Dyke — the 100-metre-deep South Downs valley which has been a tourist attraction since Victorian times — for ‘violating community standards on hate speech’. The touchy bots even slapped a 48-hour ban on a man who posted a photo of a bus bearing the beauty spot’s name as a destination with the caption ‘Heading up to the Dyke’. It’s nutty, but it sparked a serious thought: where have all the lesbians gone? Just the other week the lesbian Joanna Cherry was sacked as the SNP’s Westminster spokesperson for

Where have all the lesbians gone?

I miss lesbians. It is true that most homosexual men don’t have too many integrated in our lives, but most of us have a few. And we need them. They check our sometimes tenuous grasp of reality, they roll their eyes at our hedonism, they show us how marriages can last, and take care of us when we get sick. I generalise, of course. Many lesbians have little or nothing to do with men, including gay men. But there is a special chemistry between the men and women in the gay and lesbian worlds that it’s sad to see dissipate. Same-sex worlds can get unbalanced fast. We both need a

Living life to the full

In 1971, Tove Jansson paid one of her many visits to London, where 1960s fashion hangovers made the whole city look like ‘one big fancy-dress ball’. When not partying to celebrate 20 years of British editions for her Moomin books, she and her life-partner ‘Tooti’ — the artist Tuulikki Pietilä — caught performances of Hair (‘a grand glorification of psychedelic hippiedom’) and the ‘racy’ Canterbury Tales musical. They also saw that ‘incredibly powerful’ film, The Trials of Oscar Wilde — ‘very unlikely to come to Finland, unfortunately’. Foreign admirers sometimes presume that, in postwar Finland, Jansson found it easy to be both a saintly godmother of children’s literature and a

Disappointed of north London

Disobedience is an adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s novel about forbidden, lesbian love in orthodox Jewish north London, starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams and I so wanted to root for the film and its characters. Go for it, women! Smash the patriarchy that says you must always be the object of sexual desire and never the subject! I’ll put you up, if needs be. I have a spare bedroom and it’s all yours! But while this should be a searing, Brokeback Mountain-style drama about love, longing and repression it just plods along, often clumsily. I didn’t root or not root as in the end it was impossible to much care.

The best-kept secret

In the winter of 1820–1 a 29-year old woman named Anne Lister went to stay with some female friends who lived nearby. This was a visit between gentry families of the sort that Jane Austen describes in her novels. But there the resemblance ends. By the end of her stay Anne had flirted with four women and gone to bed with three of them. She then wrote a letter to another woman, swearing undying love. We know about Lister’s sex life from the lengthy daily diaries that she kept. She devised a clever code in which she described her sexual encounters in remorseless detail. The German writer Angela Steidele has

All shook up

The polymath writer A.N.Wilson returns to the novel in Aftershocks, working on the template of the 2011 earthquake which devastated Christchurch, New Zealand. He protests that the setting is not New Zealand but, as he admits, there are many recognisable similarities. This is a novel about true love, its agonies, ecstasies, and eventual fulfillment, told in the voice of a young woman, Ingrid Ashe. She is the daughter of the female local radio broadcaster, Cavan Cliffe; and the mother/daughter relationship is almost unhealthily close. Ingrid’s is a lesbian love story in which her passion cannot develop until the earthquake upsets the structure of the city, destroys the cathedral and causes

The good Palestinian

Shubbak, meaning ‘window’ in Arabic, is a biennial festival taking place in various venues across London. The brochure reads like an A to Z of human misery. All the tired phrases from the Middle East’s history lurch up and poke the onlooker in the eye: ‘revolution’, ‘dystopia’, ‘cries of pain’, ‘ruins’, ‘waking nightmare’. The agony is leavened with slivers of earnest pretention. Corbeaux is a ballet designed for Marrakesh railway station by dancers who ‘take possession of public spaces’. Ten women with hankies over their hairdos move in ‘geometric alchemical arrangements’ making ‘piercing sounds and extraordinary cries’. I decided to give that a miss and plumped instead for Taha at

Soon, having sex and having children will be utterly disconnected

What is tougher for a kid? To be born black in a predominantly white neighbourhood, or to be born to surrogate lesbian parents? Payton Cramblett, aged three, is both. She lives in Uniontown, Ohio — a suburb of unlovely Akron, tyre capital of the United States. Her parents are the butch, crew-cut dyke Jennifer Cramblett and the slightly less identifiably lesbian Amanda Zinkon. They are not best pleased. They bought six vials of semen from a nearby sperm bank at a cost of $400 a pop. I don’t know how much of the stuff you get in a vial — I assume no more than a couple of quick squirts

Filling in the Bloomsbury puzzle

In March 1923 a large birthday party was held in a studio in Bloomsbury. It is often assumed that the eponymous Group was habitually glum or intense; but there were a lot of parties. The artists were Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and the birthday was David Garnett’s 31st. David (known as Bunny) was a handsome, fair-haired fellow of bisexual charm, beloved by Grant, among others. His second novel, Lady into Fox, inspired and illustrated by his wife, Ray, had been a literary sensation the year before. There was much energetic dancing, and a floorshow was provided by the Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova, Maynard Keynes’s wife, and by Harriet Bingham,

Hiding in Moominland: the conflicted life of Tove Jansson

Tove Jansson’s father was a sculptor specialising in war memorials to the heroes of the White Guard of the Finnish civil war. He did not like women. They were too noisy, wore large hats at the cinema and would not obey orders in wartime. Tove used to hide to spy on his all-male parties, where everybody got astoundingly drunk and attacked chairs with bayonets. ‘All men are chums who will never leave each other in the lurch,’ she concluded. ‘A chum doesn’t forgive, he just forgets — women forgive everything but never forget. Being forgiven is very unpleasant.’ Father and daughter had such a strained relationship that she sometimes had

The mad, bad and sad life of Dusty Springfield

Call me a crazy old physiognomist, but my theory is that you can always spot a lesbian by her big thrusting chin. Celebrity Eskimo Sandi Toksvig, Ellen DeGeneres, Jodie Foster, Clare Balding, Vita Sackville-West, God love them: there’s a touch of Desperate Dan in the jaw-bone area, no doubt the better to go bobbing for apples. It is thus a tragedy that Dusty Springfield’s whole existence was blighted by her orientation, which explains ‘the silence and secrecy she extended over much of her life, and her self-loathing’. One glance at her chin should have revealed all — but the Sixties was not a fraction as liberated and swinging as people

Colette’s France, by Jane Gilmour – review

Monstrous innocence’ was the ruling quality that Colette claimed in both her life and books. Protesting her artless authenticity, she was sly in devising her newspaper celebrity and ruthless in imposing her personal myths. She posed as provincial ingénue, wide-eyed young wife of the Paris belle époque, scandalous lesbian, risqué music-hall performer, novelist of prodigious output, theatre reviewer, beautician, seducer, the most feline of cat-lovers and, ultimately, garlanded literary lioness. Yet her phoniness should not deter people from reading her books. Although most of her work resembled an imaginary autobiography, it was never self-obsessed or constricting. On the contrary, she used her fictionalised self as the centrepiece of a worldly

The Selected Letters of Willa Cather, edited by Andrew Jewell – review

Willa Cather is an American novelist without name-recognition in Europe, yet she had a wider range of subject and deeper penetration of character than other compatriot novelist of her century. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Bellow and Roth vie with, but never beat, her emotional force and the beauty of her prose. The great obstacle is that she is a woman, with a name that sounds silly. She knew more about survival in extreme conditions than other novelists, she wrote in 1913, ‘but I could never make anybody believe it, because I wear skirts and don’t shave’. As a young woman, Cather feasted on Virgil and Shakespeare — and it shows. In