THE LOG BOOKS
Season 2 Episode 4 - “A hedgehog in my kitchen”
Presenters: Tash Walker, Adam Zmith
Contributors: Femi Otitoju, Leigh Chislett, Clare Truscott, Diana James. Songs by Thigh High featured in this episode, Go Slow and Nannas on the Rampage, used with kind permission by the band.
Producers: Shivani Dave, Tash Walker, Adam Zmith
Music: Tom Foskett-Barnes
Artwork: Natalie Doto
[Telephone dial tone, Music]
LC: I think I can tell you a story, can I say felatio on here? AZ: Yes LC: Ok [laughter] FO: 10:45am. This is London Gay Switchboard, hello? A hedgehog has just walked into my kitchen. How can I get it out? Unfortunately I forgot to ask whether it was gay or not!
AZ: I hope that felatio and hedgehogs weren’t in the same story cus that could maybe be a bit painful! TW: It sounds incredibly painful! But you know, this is part of being a volunteer at Switchboard. You never know [laughter] AZ: [Interrupting] What?! What do you mean? TW: [laughter] I mean that you never know what that person is going to say when you pick up the phone. AZ: Ah, yes. [Music] TW: You’re listening to the logbooks, stories from Britain’s LGBTQ+ history, and conversations about being queer today. AZ: In partnership with Switchboard, the LGBT+ helpline. I’m Adam Zmith. TW: And I’m Tash Walker. In this season, we’re reading through the notes made by the volunteers who took calls between 1983 and 1991. Episode four, ‘A hedgehog in my kitchen’. AZ: We’ve got some funny stories about strength and joy and laughter – a light in the dark after our first three episodes in this season. TW: And the voices you’re going to hear include a nurse who found humour even during the early years of HIV and AIDS. Women who found strength on the lesbian marches and Switchboard volunteers who had to handle some really peculiar calls. AZ: Let’s start with Femi Otitoju who read out that hedgehog story at the beginning. And, something to say about why these kinds of stories are important. FO: This is a logbook entry from February 16th 1989, 1:45am. A first. A caller rang, a typesetter making a cocktail list, wanting to know how to spell ‘Zsa Zsa Gabor’. [laughter]. That’s just lovely! And those are the things that would lift you, you know? You’d take the call from somebody who’d just been diagnosed with HIV or something and then you’d put the phone down and then you would get this kind of, sweet thing. And it was lovely to be there for all of those things. Yeah, we were the first people to call for anything. We were always open, we always answered, we always took your calls seriously. Of course people rang us about everything! LC: Hello, my name is Leigh Chislett. At the age of 21 I started working at a HIV ward in Central London. It sounds like it was all gloomy, and it wasn’t, there was bizarrely a lot of laughter and a lot of fun, and I think I can tell you a story - can I say felatio on here? [laughter] There was a lot of, I was 21, and there was a lot of teasing of me in my naivety and you know, some of the guys used to come and say to me ‘You don’t mind us teasing you do you Leigh?’ and I used to go ‘No, I love it, I love the attention!’ you know so. But I can remember there was a guy in there and they were very into the leather scene, and one of their friends had become very ill, or had become ill, and he’d become really depressed - well he was unhappy, he was scared - what am I saying he was depressed? He was scared and he’d become quite quiet, and there was these guys in there who I’d got to know a little bit and I cam on my shift and came bursting in and they were eating, I don’t know, a curry, they’d got a takeaway, and I walked round the corner and I said ‘Oh, that looks nice! What’s that?’ and they said ‘Oh, it’s fellatio would you like to try some?’ and I was going, ‘Oh not now, I’m vegetarian, is it vegetarian?’ and they were going ‘Oh yeah yeah yeah, we’ve got the vegetarian version’ and I was going ‘Oh, well maybe I’ll try some a bit later’ and I went to my friend Jean on the ward, ‘Jean what’s fellatio?’ and she turned round and said ‘Oh for fucks sake Leigh, what’s the matter with you!’
AZ: So Tash, do you fancy some fellatio?
TW: Despite being a vegetarian, I’ve never actually had the taste for it.
[Laughter] AZ: We wrote that joke listeners! [Laughter] TW: Humour is a great survival mechanism though isn’t it? AZ: It is, and especially as Leigh mentions here in the early years of HIV and AIDS. And actually, if you’re going through any dark period as an individual or as a community, you need to keep things light. TW: If you can’t laugh, you’ll cry.
AZ: Yeah. TW: As calls really increased throughout this period for Switchboard between 1983 and 1991, still above that Housmans bookshop in Kings Cross, the phones ringing and ringing, louder and louder, Switchboard got closer and closer to a really important milestone. LB Reader 1: Logbook entry Friday September the third. 1982, 3:22pm. Dear comrades in struggle, as you’re all doubtless aware, we’re expecting our millionth call very soon - so we’re having a party to celebrate! The development group have the happy task of arranging this, the social event of the year. It is for present Switchboard volunteers, ex Switchboard volunteers we’re still in contact with, FROGS, that’s Friends Of Gay Switchboard. They were our regular donors. And various tadpoles and newts etc. etc. We have 90 volunteers, 200 ex volunteers and 200 FROGS. And I’m pretty sure they were looking for us to find a venue for them all! JH: Ah yes. Our one millionth call at Switchboard came through today at 12.58pm. It was from an American tourist but he wouldn’t give his name. The call was taken by Bobby Brown, Bob Workman was here today to take photos and the champagne float. And I remember that call very very well, because actually it was from an American tourist who had just landed from Chicago who was looking to find where the Coleherne was. How could he get to the Colherne? And then also the Champion, cus he’d heard that was a gay bar. And no, he didn’t want any publicity thank you very much. [laughter] You are our millionth caller! We’d like to interview you, you know, we’d like to give you, you know, a bottle of champagne if you like. We’ll even just give you the bottle of champagne - no thank you very much, thank you for your help, bye bye - so er, that was that you know, I’m Julian Hows.
LP: Fourth of March 1984 was Switchboard's tenth birthday, I’m Lisa Power and I was a volunteer on Switchboard between 1979 and 1994. And I remember we held a private party for Switchboard volunteers, and our friends, at the Union Tavern, and that is where Mike taught me to erm at least play with fire. I couldn’t actually fire eat, but I was waving fire up and down my arms and he was fire eating. And it’s where Debbie Cline and James Neil Kennerly sang the Masochism Tango by Tom Laira. And that was a great party, I remember that, it was a hoot! I also remember a big benefit for us at Heaven, and I think that was for our tenth birthday as well. And there is still a photo of me out there, dressed as the Statue of Liberty, drinking a glass of something or the other - I have a feeling it was a beer - and leaning on the entry table with another Switchboard volunteer, David, at my side. Log Book Reader 2: This is a logbook entry from 27th May, 1991. Things fall apart the centre cannot hold - W. B. Yeats. Was he talking about this rapidly disintegrating logbook? Log Book Reader 3: Logbook entry 29th September 1983. THE ARRIVAL OF THE COMPUTER. Large coloured in letters, all capitals, coloured in and with training stripes behind. This is the first arrival of a computer in Switchboard, it’s important, and the correspondent in the logbook wants you to know. The computer working party urgently needs people who are willing to familiarise themselves with the system and act as trainers for other vols. PLEASE anyone familiar with the use of micro computers who hasn’t yet come out, please reveal her/his presence to us. Just pop a little note in my pigeon hole. This is from William in the computer working party. Switchboards first ever computer.
[Music] Log Book Reader 4: Oh I remember the arrival of the computer, erm yes it was a very exciting thing it was next door [laughter] in the office behind. I was always tech queen anyway, so I thought we were a bit slow to that one. It was literally used for minutes and for transferring the files, which had been largely done on typewriters and stuck in so they were collated on the computer and printed out, and put into the files. It wasn’t like a computer that you could access a database and use whilst you were talking to anybody on the phone. It was really just a glorified typewriter that you used to print things. But it was still very exciting, so we were all really excited when the computer arrived at Switchboard. But really, it couldn’t do a lot. We’d all go in and look at it! [Laughter] It didn’t have a code anyone could get on it. And it was DOS. Its operating system was DOS, it was a little cursor and a blank screen and you’d type and it was black and white - it really could not [inaudible]. The machine was used to process information, to churn it out in a way that we could use it. Just to put it back onto paper, and into the files. Cus that’s where things were good. You know, the computer was used to print off little bits of print, that were then reattached to pins, which were put on the map where we could use them.
Log Book Reader 5: This is a logbook entry from 8th March 1991. A great quote from a Transsexual that rang today. “I hope I don’t find a man like I used to be” P.S - her boobs are growing so fast, she offered us her discarded bras, well, for anyone who wants them!
TW: These are all just so lovely logbook entries to listen to. Memories from our contributors, logbooks falling apart. New computers. I mean, Switchboard still has ongoing computer issues - like anyone in 2020. AZ: Oh, I was going to ask you that. How advanced is the technology at Switchboard now? TW: It’s a lot more advanced than it was, er in this period of time. [Laughter] AZ: Is that all you’re going to say? TW: Yeah, I think so. [Laughter] TW: It’s lovely to hear Lisa talking about Switchboard’s tenth birthday as well, it reminds me of this picture that’s in the archive of all of the volunteers together, smiling and laughing. It’s a black and white picture, at the camera. It just looks so much fun. AZ: I like that entry that Richard read about the arrival of the computer. One of the specifications of the computer was that it had a 10 megabyte hard disk. Which is just, it’s just brilliant. I think, just me saying that on this audio file, that one sentence is probably more than 10 megabytes! TW: Yeah, right! AZ: And how about that story about the bras being available? From someone who doesn’t need them anymore? TW: It’s so giving. AZ: Yes. TW: And actually, Clare has got a great story about the political symbol of the bra amidst the powerful Lesbian Strength marches in 1988. CT: You know, Lesbian Strength marches, pfft completely invisible. Cus, two three thousand women marching down the street in Central London blocking the traffic, didn’t make the news at all. It was still kind of invisible in that way. But it felt really good to be visible on the street, to be out, shouting, on the street. It was lovely, I love, I loved shouting [Laughter]. Hello, I’m Clare Truscott I’ve been out and proud for over thirty years, Lesbian Strength marches are weird events. I liked wearing very feminine looking clothes, I used to make my own clothes, I always had, I used to buy like jumble sale clothes. What you now call vintage, but back then was just called second hand. I had all these fifties frocks, big hats and gloves and funky belts - I was very much into accessories. Loved my accessories. Always with flat shoes or boots so I could run. And I’d turn up at Pride, and oh, a great time. Everybody loved everybody. Turn up at Lesbian Strength, in a dress, everybody would give you the evil eye! Everybody would look at you like you’d completed some, some, unspoken sin. Erm, yeah I loved dressing up for all the Pride marches, but woah forget dressing up for Lesbian Strength marches no, it’s just not on, not, not social acceptable shall we say, amongst lesbians. Some women decided to have an impromptu sit-in, probably in White Hall part of the Lesbian Strength march, and it was raining. It was cold. We’d been standing around for hours since before the march began. We’d been walking for a while. There was gonna be an awful long walk afterwards. You know, I was getting pretty cold, pretty pissed off. And I just said to some random woman near me, ‘Oh my tits are freezing, I wish I had a bra on’, and all she said to me was ‘You don’t wear a bra do you?!’ as if it was the worst thing in the world [Laughter]. Switchboard Volunteer: I remember the Dyke marches very clearly. Actually, before the Dyke marches there were actually the Lesbian Strength marches, so throughout the 80’s they were Lesbian Strength. Sometimes they were very tiny marches in West London. I liked the Lesbian Strength marches, because I could wear my dresses and not get outshone by the drag queens which I couldn’t do at Pride. So I saved my ballgowns for Lesbian Strength which was quite nice. I remember the Dyke marches being much smaller, again, slightly more political, but as I said it was called Lesbian Strength until relatively recently. Now, I remember a copper saying to me ‘Are you on the right march?’ cus I think I had a ballgown on and I looked like a girl [laughter] I think he thought I was on the wrong march. My friend and I got locked into Brixton’s Black Women's Centre one night, we worked so hard to let them let us use this centre. They’d gone off an left us because they were in shock I think, they didn’t really let Black Lesbians in the place, and we were sewing this banner ready for, I’m sure it was the Lesbian Strength march the next day. And they locked us in! [Laughter]. In the centre. And we didn’t notice, with sequins in our little hands. [Laughter]. Lesbian Strength marches were like Lesbian things in those days were, where I do think lesbians are much more glam than they were, I mean, there’s always femmes in that, which I very much subscribe too, but there were always women who did that, but mostly no - because we were trying really hard to get away from the gender stereotypes, and a lot of us were very feminist in other ways.
DJ: So the first one I went to was in ‘86. It was just brilliant, it was fantastic, it was all these women, together, it was not like we were in a minority. It was not like a few women. There were like a few hundred dykes, taking up their space, walking down the middle of the road saying ‘we’re here’ and ‘fuck you’ and ‘we’re going to stay here’. But, we also did get an enormous amount of shit from this. So, there was like things thrown at us, we got the cat calls, ‘you fucking dyke’, ‘you need a stiff dick’ you know, ‘you don’t know what it’s about’, men gesturing at us by grabbing hold of their crotches. You’d get beer bottles thrown at you and stuff. It was pretty gross the way that you could be treated on some of these marches. Especially if you weren’t part of the main group of the march, sometimes if the march spread out a little. These brave guys would feel sort of empowered then to kinda sling stuff at you, and you’d get spat at as well. Stuff like that. So you tried to keep together in the marches. But, there was strength pulled from that. There was strength pulled from each other. We had our banners, we had our huge labrys, which is a double headed axe. And we’d shout and scream, beat drums, sing. You know, it was a tremendous community thing and that brought women much more together to realise there weren’t one or two of us, there were hundreds of us. And we weren’t quiet, we weren’t meek, we weren’t kind. We were out there, and we were fucking powerful and we were gonna take our space. TW: Yes Diana! Ah wow. Such, such energy. [Laughter] AZ: I know, it’s great that she can still bring that energy out, like, thirty odd years later from being on that march. TW: It’s fantastic. AZ: It’s like she’s just arriving home after it. TW: Yeah, with her double headed axe. I actually had no idea that Lesbian Strength marches existed until I was making this podcast and I was talking to the contributors, Diana, Clare. It’s amazing to hear these memories. Did you know about them Adam? AZ: No, the Lesbian Strength marches are yet another thing that I did not know about. And, from Clare, here’s another thing. C: It was at a time when I had a bisexual flatmate. And, erm, she was the contact for the Bisexual London Womens Group. But she went out a lot, and so you know, there was my number, had been left at places like Switchboard - and so, you know lonely bisexuals phoning up saying ‘I’ve never met another bisexual’ - would be given my home number and phone. And because the bisexual flatmate was out gallivanting doing whatever she was doing, I ended up counselling a whole load of very timid bisexual women! [Laughter]. I was like, ‘Oh no the bisexual’s not here at the moment, she’s out somewhere. Erm, I’m a lesbian, you can talk to me!’ [Laughter] That was probably about 1984,85,86 that sort of time. Yeah, and some of those phone calls were hilarious. There was no continuum back then, you know there was no sexual fluidity. No, you had to be one or the other. There was the sort of feeling that if you were bisexual you could just disappear back into the heterosexual closet. I dunno. I was often accused of being bisexual back in the 80s. Erm, I mean my personal feeling on it, is we’re all bisexual to some extent or another, it’s just that some people express it very much down one end of the spectrum, or the other. And I must say that as soon as I discovered women that I didn’t really wanna know men [Laughter]. And I’ve been with women ever since. But, I’ve had two men who wanted to marry me. I went out with my first boyfriend for five years when I was a teenager. I slept with an awful lot of men. So when all those men used to say to me, it’s like well ‘How do you know?’ it’s like ‘How many do you gotta try?’ [laughter]. This was all useful background when I was counselling the random bisexuals who’d phone up wanting to speak to my flatmate!
DJ: There was one bit of humour that we did have. My name is Diana James and I was a Switchboard volunteer between ‘88 and ‘94, ‘95. Something that used to make us laugh, which was really childish back then, but it was funny - is that you used to get caught sometimes with a wank call.and it was, no matter how experienced you were, generally the more experience you got the more times you’d pick it up, but not always sometimes you’d still get caught. And the frustration then when they’d go ‘Ah right thanks!’ and put the phone down, was ‘Oh shit! Caught again!’ So, what we did if someone got caught like that, is we’d have a little sticker and it said ‘WANKED’ and you’d stick it on your forehead [laughing] so for the rest of your shift, you’re sitting there with a sticker on your forehead with wanked written over it! [laughing] So if someone comes in they’re looking at you going ‘Ah! You’ve got caught then!’ because you’re sitting there with a sticker on your forehead going wanked. It was just childish and silly.
TW: I definitely would have ended up with one of those post-its on my forehead. I remember one call I took where I gently challenged the caller, because I thought that they were wanking. It turns out they were just walking up some stairs and getting rather out of breath! [Laughter] So I obviously apologised.
AZ: Oh my gosh that’s amazing. The work at Switchboard is so hard you’ve gotta have a sense of humour about it I guess?
TW: Yeah, it can be sometimes really difficult. You’re completely right. And here’s a logbook entry that demands a little respect. Logbook Reader 6: This is a logbook entry from 11th March 1990. Caller rang to say how he could become gay. Sixteen year old absolutely besotted by the lead singer in Erasure. Dresses like his idol, has his hair styled the same, copies his mannerisms too. Lead singer is gay so our sixteen year old wants to be too. How? What’s the secret? Any answers? Logbook Reader 7: This is a logbook entry from October 7th, 1986. The volunteer who made the note was Costas. The phone room's fluorescent light tube was, I’m afraid to say, fitted in error, and without consultation by our over ambitious electrician. He doesn’t normally charge us any money for his work, so I can’t really ask him to change it. We have decided to keep it for the moment, although I will be buying a softer tube as the present one is rather harsh. However, if enough people wish for the light to be put back the way it was, then it can be arranged. Please let me know. And here are some comments from the volunteers. It’s like McDonalds! - I like it. - So do I. - Would be good with a warm white tube. - Mid-pink for preference. AZ: How’s the lighting at Switchboard these days Tash? TW: Terribly unflattering, considering it’s run by queers. AZ: Did you ever get the mid-pink hue in the fluorescent light tube just right? Or is it still like McDonalds?
TW: [Laughter] I, I don’t know what to say to that! AZ: Come on you’re a bright spark. TW: We’re working from home now Adam, so…[laughter] anyway, finally… a lovely story from this period. We wanted to return to Lynn and Elaine who in the mid to late 80’s, really got together and started building that life. AZ: Aw.
L: I would say that looking back and reflecting on this really difficult time, it really was time for us to cement our relationship. And I guess as we started our life together, in a sort of full time way, it wasn’t quite as important to go out clubs. Because, like most lesbians, once they’ve got what they want - they start staying at home and eating cakes and drinking tea and playing with the cat of course! [Laughter] Or in our case it was a little chihuahua so it looked like a cat. But generally speaking, we went on from that time to develop an infrastructure of friends from all walks of life. And we’ve had a very happy and fulfilled life together.
E: Looking back, I know I wouldn't be the woman I am today if it wasn’t for you.
L: Oh thank you darling, you too.
E: It’s not always been easy. But I think that the biggest thing is that we’ve always been able to communicate.
L: Yeah that’s the important thing.
E: And I feel, at this time in my life, really happy. I’m pretty sure that I am the best that I can be. At least, at the moment anyway!
L: So the last 150 years haven’t been too much difficulty for you?
E: No, not too many no! I just remember the good times. I think, we had a lot of good times
E: Hm, have. Having.
TW: Shivani’s bit of queer joy is Lyn and Elaine! So [laughter] AZ: Just listening to them definitely makes me a bit happy and warm and fuzzy.
TW: Yeah, it always brings a smile to my face hearing Lynne and Elaine’s stories. AZ: The thing about them also is that they do like joke and laugh with each other, when they are talking and that is really nice. TW: They have a lovely dynamic.
AZ: Yeah. I tell you who else has a lovely dynamic [laughter] TW: Oh my god creepy! [Laughter] AZ: Sorry! [Laughter] A seven foot drag queen dressed as Mary Antoinette singing Wet Ass Pussy by Cardi B. That’s the kind of thing that gives me my queer joy today. TW: It’s good to have such a niche Adam. Or at least to know it. Oh yeah, drag is amazing. Drag kings, drag queens, drag performers are just so much fun to watch. I’m really missing seeing them, and I’m also really missing live music, which is something I absolutely love. As we were reflecting back on all the laughter and queer joy in this episode it made us think about how LGBTQ+ people have fun today. So we spoke to Thigh High, the band who put queer joy at the centre of their music. [Music] TR: Hey! I’m Tom Rasmussen, I form fifty percent of the front of Thigh High. I am an author, journalist, drag performer and international supermodel.
[Laughter] HC: My name is Hatty, I am the other fifty percent of Thigh High. I’m an illustrator, artist, drag king performer. Thigh High is a sort of glam rock, queer, pop inspired project. Obviously, it’s a band, but it’s also an expression of queer joy and fun. TR: Yeah, exactly. And our focus is to sort of tell queer stories that are both about sorrow, definitely, like a lot of queer stories can be. But also about joy and humour and like, iconic inspirations that might not necessarily be lauded as queer in the first place. So like our grandmas for example, or like a trans rocket that we wrote a story about or like a really badass baby sitter that Hatty had when she was growing up that kind of forced her to shave her legs and smoke weed when Hatty was like 12! But sort of like, legendary icons who inform us as queer people. HC: Yeah, it’s like finding our own queer heroes, where there was a sort of void growing up, and sort of retelling our histories to put more of them in there, and to sort of take them out and give them a spotlight, these sort of unusual characters. TR: So ‘Go Slow’ is a kind of experiment song. Basically, the story arc is about kind of trying to not fall into the arms of your dildo lover [laughter], and then just kind of giving in and being like ‘fuck it’ and then the batteries kind of go. But really it’s an experiment in terms of song structure, because we wanted to kind of be like, basically reflect an orgasm. [‘Go Slow’ plays - whirring synth and piano over sultry vocals] Lyrics: Every night I try to resist, sacred pleasure (pleasure, pleasure) But every time I fail, I fall into your arms (sighs) I like the buzz, like to click into pleasure (pleasure, pleasure) Every night I fail, I fall into your arms (sighs) Take me higher now Cus I need to know
That you’ll stick around and love me, and gift me everything everything
HC: It’s based on my dildo who is called Tiffany [Laughter]. And it’s actually I think, the first song we ever wrote together. It was when we were living in an office building about five years ago. And there was this chaos of lots of queers living with us, and, this previously sort of maybe shameful thing, became like, everybody was talking about it, or accidentally walking in on each other, or one of us would wander out and like raid the TV remote and get the batteries and put them back in. We sort of wanted to demonstrate, that as people start to open up and talk openly about masturbation, that it doesn’t have to be this like, super serious subject and it’s actually the queer failure of the moments when the batteries die is actually funny and we wanted to write about that. [‘Go Slow’ plays - faster rock segment] Lyrics: Till the batteries go go go! Till the batteries go go go!
TR: It starts off really gentle, and then it goes sort of faster and faster and by the end it’s like, the BPM has doubled. Which was really hard to record but also really funny!
[‘Go Slow’ plays - getting faster until a climactic outro]
Lyrics: Till the batteries go go go! Till the batteries go go go…
[Music stops] TR: I think humour runs through our community, like god knows we need joy and humour. But also, talking about the story you talked about in the podcast, today, it’s our connective tissue as a community I think. What really saddens Hatty and I a lot, when we watch TV with queer characters in, or when read books about queer characters in, or listen to some queer music, you know not all there’s loads of great stuff, but some of it is really weighted with sincerity because a lot of people who are taking up space in a public sphere kind of have to present a sincere story in order to be taken seriously. And I think that’s really important. HC: ‘Nanas on a Rampage’ was a tribute to Tom’s grandma, and actually my great aunt, as in the woman in the song, Marjorie is based on her. [‘Nanas on a Rampage’ plays - electronic upbeat song] Lyrics: Nanas on a rampage
You better watch out
Tearing up the highway With her tits out
You’ve gotta love her supermonkey glamour Ride forever with your coochie out HC: We wanted to really pay tribute to this amazing woman, and also in the video like, picture ourselves as older queers. Because you know, we grew up not really knowing what our future would look like. So we were like, ok let’s imagine ourselves at 85 years old. Put on prosthetics and sort of rampage around town. You know, let’s create that future retirement moment [laughter] because this is what we want it to be like. TR: Because there’s something so liberating, like my grandma Kathleen, she was such like an iconic inspiration, in that she’d never sort of discussed the fact that I was gay per se, or like trans, or a drag queen, but she would like make me dresses and give me her makeup and it was this sort of tacit understanding that we were both icons, basically. And there was something so liberating I think about mapping all our insecurities about being queer, cus there’s so many growing up, and there’s still so many about safety, about rights, about love, and about like, you know, shame and all the things that affect our community. And what was amazing with my grandma as I watched her get older, from when I was born onwards, was that she really loved image, she was really poor but she loved to dress up and lacquer her hair and wear lipstick. And as she got older she still used to do those things, but she’d just give less of a shit about what people thought of her. We’ve talked a lot about how amazing it is to get older and to stop giving less of a shit about worrying about the things queer people are forced to worry about as part of a society. So they are kind of a map in a way, they kind of became these wonderful maps of imagining how wonderfully radical our futures will be. Rather than how narrow they’ll be. HC: Yeah, my great aunt Marjorie who I never knew really - she died when i was 8 years old - but she never married, it wasn’t confirmed that she was queer, but she often had these very close female like, friendships, and often was very, I don’t know if gender queer is the right word, but like, she was very, the way that she, you know, would smoke cigars and like always be next door with all the men. Like, everyone just described her as a mean but iconic harsh woman. Who would dress to the nines in these iconic outfits and was like, horrible, but also like such an amazing woman. TR: Sort of the same that Miss Trunchbull was like a queer icon. Or the same way Anjelica Huston in the Witches is a queer icon. HC: Oh my god, yes! Exactly! These like, powerful women.
TR: It’s like watching 101 Dalmatians, you know what I mean? You’re like hang on, Cruella Deville is obviously the icon. It’s so obvious that’s the oldest queer idea ever.
HC: It’s also the heteronormativity of Roger and Anita and Glenn Close is there! And she even says in 101 Dalmations, ‘Don’t get married Anita, be a fashion icon.’ It’s really fun to read the baddies as our heroes. TR: Humour is, god knows you need it, it’s awful a lot of the stuff that our community has been through. And a lot of the stuff say, I can only talk about myself personally, that I’ve been through, by comparison to a lot of non-queer people’s lives. But, a lot of things that got me through high school was humour - oh my god! What got me through high school was laughing at people, laughing at myself, you know kind of making a joke - and I obviously don’t think that’s always the way. And I might have some deep buried trauma, from not really engaging with it. But like, sometimes you know, when you do get a rock thrown at you [laughing] in the playground. Sometimes, you have to make a quip back and then laugh about it with your friends, or else every day would have been impossible. Because I’d get rocks thrown at me every day. HC: I think it’s really true. And as a lesbian, who was completely invisible, and we have sometimes the opposite problem - which is like, yeah you aren’t as visible, so you might not get all of the rocks, but you know the repression, and being in the closet for so long, and the seriousness and the weight there is to that. I just wish [Laughing] that I could have been laughing about it. You know, I met Tom in my early twenties, and that’s when we started making music, but also having a hilarious time. And I suddenly was like, oh, this queer thing that I’ve been treating so seriously, and has been such a burden and been so horrible, is actually like, just a big joke really. [Laughter]. And that’s like, wonderful.
AZ: We really hope that Tom and Hatty and all the stories in this episode have brought you some joy. Next in our trip from ‘83 - ‘91 through the logbooks, we’re going to turn our microphone towards the media.
AZ: Calls to Switchboard are confidential, so to bring The Logbooks to life, we’ve changed the callers names. The Logbooks is produced by Shivani Dave, Adam Zmith and Tash Walker in partnership with Switchboard, the LGBT+ helpline.
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