THE LOG BOOKS
Season 3 Episode 0 - “The queer 90s”
Presenters: Tash Walker, Adam Zmith
Producers: Shivani Dave, Tash Walker, Adam Smith
Music: Tom Foskett-Barnes
Artwork: Natalie Doto
[chimes of Big Ben, street noise]
AZ: Bing bang bong—
TW: Adam, Adam! U k hun?
AZ: Can you guess where we are?
TW: We’re in Parliament Square, in the heart of London, to plant a stake for queer power and queer history, right here.
AZ: And, to launch season 3 of The Log Books!
TW: You’re listening to The Log Books, stories from Britain’s LGBTQ+ history, and conversations about being queer today.
AZ: In partnership with Switchboard, the LGBT+ helpline.
AZ: I’m Adam Zmith.
TW: And I’m Tash Walker.
AZ: The Log Books uses the handwritten notes made by volunteers at the helpline Switchboard to tell stories from Britain’s LGBTQI+ history.
TW: In our previous season we focused on 1983 to 1991, meaning stories and memories of HIV and AIDS, a raid on a queer bookshop, experiences of migrating to the UK, and Section 28, the anti-gay legislation passed right here in Parliament, in that building I’m looking at, back in 1988.
AZ: In our new season, we’re moving through the 90s, covering 1992 to 2003. It’s quite the shift, featuring the campaigns for laws to improve the lives of LGBTQI+ people with disabilities, and the fight in the courts and Parliament over equalizing the age of consent for men having sex with men.
TW: Yeah, right here where we are standing there were so many protests and demonstrations, and one in particular you’ll be hearing more about later in this season.
AZ: And that’s not all we’ve got coming up…
[street noise fades out]
Contributor 1: [laughing] I remember once, with a friend, on our dial-up modem at home, saying ‘Ok, what shall we look for?’ and she said ‘Er, a naked picture of Catherine Deneuve.’
Log book reader 1: This is a log book entry from August 13th, 2001. ‘Caller rang wanting to know about adult babies’ groups, people dressing up in nappies. Couldn’t find anything in database, checked ‘fetish/other’—anyone know of anything?’
Contributor 2: I got the phone, went upstairs, made sure it was charged, and then I sat, the furthest away point from my bedroom door, under my desk as I possibly could be, sat under the desk, and, erm, dialled the number, and I’ve got this memory of my hands sweating so much because I was so nervous. [Laughing] And the phone kept slipping out of my hand.
Log book reader 2: This is a log book entry from April the 15th 2003. ‘Blind caller in South London. A blind lesbian called, and was going to call back after I’d looked for any services available, which could help her meet other lesbian women. I wasn’t able to search the computers as they are down, but if she does call back, there are some numbers in April’s Gay Times which may be of use.’
Log book reader 3: This is a log book entry from 3.48 am on the 6th of September, 1994. ‘A guy just rang to say “We’re gonna do an attack on your people tonight.” I rang the police, who said they’ll deal with it and phone back. He was really threatening. I’m really glad I put the lock on the door.’
[slow piano music]
Contributor 3: She’d gone to the ladies’, the women’s toilets at some point. The thing is all our drag queens used to use the women’s toilets as well. And, erm, she said that when she was in there, four or five different, er, queens, and one person that wasn’t, wasn’t a queen, they, they spoke to her properly, in the toilets, and said to her ‘Auntie, thank you so much’. ‘Auntie’, you know, it’s a respectful term, ‘Auntie, thank you so much for being here. I wish my parents were like this with me. I, I beg you for your blessings.’ Just makes me cry, even, you know, thinking about it now.
AZ: Tash, it feels a bit stuffy here, and the Houses of Parliament are literally crumbling. Can we go somewhere else?
TW: [laughing] For sure, Adam. How about I take you to Switchboard, because in the years we’re focusing on in this season, Switchboard moves premises to the building that it’s still in today.
AZ: Let’s go!
[music, street noise]
TW: We’re here, Adam!
AZ: Here we are! It says Switchboard on the door.
TW: Let me just get my keys out.
[keys jangling, beep]
TW: Welcome to Switchboard!
AZ: Thanks. Ooh…
[beep, sound of footsteps]
AZ: So Tash, tell me more about Switchboard’s move into this building.
TW: Well today, on actually today, November the 1st, 28 years ago in 1993, Switchboard moved here. Erm, it was great, to move out of the small, but amazing room above Housmans Bookshop, to a whole building with a separate phone room and a kitchen.
AZ: Was it safer for volunteers?
TW: Well, Switchboard has always received threatening calls, including ones in the ‘90s from anti-LGBTQI+ people and, of course, fascists.
AZ: Yeah. And we’ve got some of that coming up in the season, right? The people who opposed LGBTQI+ folks in 1999 was when things got real, when the Admiral Duncan gay pub in Soho was bombed by a Nazi.
TW: Yeah, exactly. And Switchboard was there of course to support people after the attack. I know, thinking about it, it’s only today that Switchboard feels safe enough to even place a sign with our name on the outside of the building.
AZ: The Admiral Duncan bomb is just one of the stories we’ve got coming up in season 3. We’re also gonna cover landmark TV, like the Brookside lesbian kiss—
AZ: —and Queer as Folk, the New Labour government, with more of an emphasis on human rights, more awareness of trans people, and the arrival of the internet.
TW: Adam, let’s go into the internet!
AZ: No, Tash.
TW: Sad times. Erm, but soon we will have to conclude our podcast, because the log books finish in 2003, when Switchboard moved to a new, digital system of logging calls.
AZ: So that means this is the last season of The Log Books as we know it. Because the actual log books run out.
TW: But there’s plenty for now: ten more amazing, jam-packed episodes, one a week, from today. So, subscribe or follow wherever you get your podcasts, and let’s get listening.
[piano and string music]
TW: Calls to Switchboard are confidential, so to bring The Log Books to life we’ve changed callers’ details.
AZ: The Log Books is produced by Shivani Dave, Tash Walker, and Adam Zmith, in partnership with Switchboard, the LGBT+ helpline. And supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
TW: If you think other people would like The Log Books, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. These ratings and reviews really help others to discover the show. You can send us your feedback and stories to email@example.com, or join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #TheLogBooks.
AZ: Our music is by Tom Foskett-Barnes, and our artwork is by Natalie Doto.
TW: Thanks to…
AZ: Stef Dickers, and the team at the Bishopsgate Institute. The folks at Acast, Content is Queen, David Pye, the staff and volunteers at Switchboard, and everyone who shared their stories with us.
TW: Switchboard continues to take phone calls from 10 am to 10 pm, every day. If you’re affected by any of the issues in this podcast, or need to discuss anything to do with gender identity or sexuality, you can call Switchboard on 0300 330 0630, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or instant message via switchboard.lgbt, where you can also donate money, or time, to help.