Lesbian Visibility Day

Published: 26th April 2021
26 April marks Lesbian Visibility Day. To celebrate, Lynn, Look Ahead Health and Safety Manager, shares her experiences finding the space to be herself.

Today is Lesbian Visibility day; this is my day to share experiences of finding our place and our comfort zone within the world. My name is Lynn, I am the Health and Safety Manager for Look Ahead, I am 51 (I know I do not look it).

When I was at school, I always had either a football or a book in my hand, I loved to read, I still do, anyway this large ginger girl decided I would be an easy target ‘the geeky kid with the pink NHS spectacles’ (you have got this picture haven’t you?). I was easy pray for everyone to laugh at and be the brunt of the comments. She started calling me a lesbian, butch and other things. Me, I was just a tomboy, I hated dolls and dresses as you couldn’t play football with either.

In 1990, I was 21, embarking on the rights of passage that is known as marriage to a kind, handsome and attentive man called Steve. Then I fell for a strong local business married women called Christine. Needless to say I split with Steve shortly after. I knew if I wanted to spend time with someone else, I should not be with him, I did not know what was happening nor did I feel I belonged anywhere.

One night a couple of months later, I had been out for dinner with Chris, she dropped me off at parents and as I got out of the car we kissed. What I did not realise at the time was my brother saw me, soon after he started with the snidely comments of “Dyke”, “Lesbian” and other derogatory names. I was so green I did not understand what dyke meant, so I looked it up in a dictionary (no Google back then). It meant drainage ditch – a ditch full of slurry – prat I thought, he doesn’t know what he is talking about! The comments got worse, threatening to tell mum and dad if I did not pay him.

Look Ahead

Just be yourself as everyone else is taken! Be the role model you would have liked when you struggled or needed support, speak up if you see an injustice, challenge the derogatory comments, support and empower anyone who needs help

So…I took things into my own hands, waited for my dad and brother to go out and I told my mum I thought I was gay and in love with a married woman. It was horrendous. Dad returned, and the verbal barrage got worse, awful things were said and I was sent to my room – yes at 21!

My parents were not bad people they just did not understand. They were from a small Northern mining town where no one was gay/lesbian and you certainly did not have affairs with anyone. I do not know what I expected, I had blown their hopes, fears, dreams of grandchildren out in one fell swoop.

I went to my room, packed a bag, and climbed out of my bedroom window and left over the fields, which surrounded our house. Whilst ducking and diving I saw them out looking for me and calling my name, the anger was palatable. I stayed with friends for a couple of week before moving into my own flat.

My relationship with Chris did not last. Several of my friends were shocked. How would I cope being ‘outed’ in a small town? Apparently I did not look gay? I still smile and think what does gay look like? During this period I lost friends, but I soon realised that if someone had a problem with my sexuality, it was just that, their problem not mine. My parents brought me up to believe we were all equal; no better than anyone, and no one better than you.

I was, and will remain to this day, just me – Lynn.

No one walks into a room and says, “Hi, my name is Lynn and I’m straight”, so why should I? What happens in our private lives is just that – private, it does not affect my ability to achieve or do anything.”

Fast forward to 2003, I met Ali. I disliked her instantly, she was loud, and I was still the geek – which she disliked too! Some of our friends took bets that we would not last as when I met her Ali was married to a man and has a son (which hadn’t figured in my life plan). However, here we are 16 years later, eight years married and we’re happy together and lost when we are apart. My stepson brings things out in me I never thought I had. We also have a five-year-old grandson who is my shadow and I am certainly wrapped around his little finger!

The moral of this blog is that visibility does matter, I do not walk into a room shouting about my sexuality, nor do I lie about it. If asked what my husband does, I say I do not have one, but my wife does this..

Positive changes start with each one of us, we need to be comfortable in our own skin, then we can push the boundaries – through educating people. My parents were from a generation that saw gay as being wrong, a mental health issue that could be cured. There are still members of my family who will never accept me or my wife and that is ok, as I said it’s their problem not mine.

I have been at Look Ahead for four months and can genuinely say it is an organisation that makes it totally comfortable to be yourself.

And this would be my advice to anyone struggling with their sexuality. Just be yourself as everyone else is taken! Be the role model you would have liked when you struggled or needed support, speak up if you see an injustice, challenge the derogatory comments, support and empower anyone who needs help but above all.

Be someone’s light at the end of a rainbow!

Hear more about diversity and inclusion at Look Ahead here.