celebrating and creating our own LGBT history in honour of Sheila McWattie

day two



Into the steam of The Golden Lion Café you quietly let out that today, is your secret birthday.

We are dyke cousins, separated by seas but intimately entwined. We compare our young, big city lives. London’s intense staccato, louder, more frantic than your soft spoken, smoky slow, bicycle powered Amsterdam appreciating both extremes.

You are one of five women living in tiny studio rooms called Kemperstraat with a bed high enough to look down into the street big enough to accommodate at least two of your other lovers. Your live-in dogfriend is Tula, like you the friendliest of creatures, her big bed is by the wood burning stovein which we burn bits collected from the streets on Monday evenings.

We don’t have much money but we share coffee and draw, generate poetry or paintings. Like the artists we admire, we make it our mission to look for beauty everywhere in the world and make spaces for women where they can to feel sexy and free, to create and grow dyke-friendly culture.

You tell me, maybe you have a baby. We will travel by boat-train mainly between each other’s homes, to and fro, for the next twenty years. A day long journey with time to breathe-in the sea-salt spray. As we contemplate the way.

By 2017 I’m settled permanently in Wales but there is a tunnel we can drive through. Unsure what to do, you suggest we simply walk together all day around your city. Your boy is full grown and your health returning after a terrible scare. You walk me out further than I have ever been as a tourist before, out to the island once squatted by our freeborn friends now gentrified. To the Dam herself, with the sea beyond. We walk along whole dikes, forgiving betrayals and remembering how to enjoy being together without sex or drugs. Walk talking through grassy wetlands beneath vast motorways, beside flotillas of houseboats until we hit the industrial canal lands where we clamber aboard a free ferry via central station to home. Your generosity is contagious, easy love floats between us in a local Moroccan steam room where tall Dutch housewives debate naked how to improve the world until all of us are scrubbed clean by dark women who laugh as we wince, they know how to help us leave our carapace.

Finally we sip mint tea, contented silently.



by Jane Campbell who is a 54yrs old dyke and is proud to live off grid in a handmade home in rural West Wales UK.









day one

Now I journey home, having buried you. A lift from a neighbour to the airport, a plane, a coach, a taxi. The glorious suspended animation of passive movement. I am surrendered, but dread arriving. Dread the memorial. Your death renewed in every condolence. The fact softened with each empathic loving embrace. I want it to stay hard, in clear sharp focus. Feeling close to the event is to feel close to you.
I am still using your Wallace black leather classic handbag.
Trying to learn your good habits, probably too little and much too late.
One zip for the passport, one for the keys, one for the purse, tucked in against my body, strap across my chest, not dangling from a shoulder. Extra protection from would be thieves.
Tomorrow I will meet with rest of your family, in your home town, in the Catholic club of all places!
You won’t spin in your grave though, you’ll be dancing on the clouds laughing your head off at the ridiculous amount of autonomy people would surrender for such a filthy crutch. The opiate of the masses indeed. The largest peaodophile protection racket in the history of Christendom.

Because you are gone, all I have now is the certainty that love is all that survives the story.
Human connection is where we all exist eternally, in and of and for each other. So of course I will be kind. So of course I will forgive, because largely I now know that not that much actually matters.
The clothes, the shoes, the bank account , the government, it’s all just scratching around in the sand.
The things that remain live in the heart, or rather in the heart’s memory. I remember your hands, every time I look at mine. Capable, loving, certain. Squarish, broad practical fingers pushed out from strong palms and knuckles.
I remember your wedding ring, long lost. A rolled Silver Dollar.  You loved it. I did too,  I coveted it and was sad when it was gone, who knows where? And now you’re not here to ask. I remember the light hitting your hair through the orange voile curtains, as you sat at your desk in the morning, reading the papers online.
I remember the uncomfortable dangerous noises from you downstairs in the night, when you were drinking. I remember how your animals avoided you.
I remember how much you loved me. I remember how much it undid you. You were helpless to it and it made you hate your own vulnerability all the more. I remember how complicated you were and yet so simple. The one basic fissure in the tectonic plate of your personality, an early trauma that never healed, but spread, tributary cracks slowly compromising the terra firma of your self.

You chose to take yourself away, and died in an unforgiving place.
A place where relationships are measured by the value of things that can be exchanged.
A place where everything has a price, because there is so little. Because need is so great.

The first trip was a blur to bury you. Settle your affairs. Close up your house. Deal with

left over pets, empty kitchen cupboards, dispose of clothes and shoes. Send saved draft emails to an old lover, your favourite sister. Face the public shame of the prodigal daughter arrived too late. Embarrassed to receive trays of village potatoes, cakes. Break like a child in the arms of the babas that hold me and declare ’няма маика, няма маика’ In the glare of car headlights at the side of the road, by the bench where the neighbours gather to gossip on hot Summer nights, under the Lindon tree.
Next morning, stoney faced and grey, heavy in the 40 degree heat, I drive to the police station in Svilengrad. The interpreter is sweet, but her English has been learned on a diet of Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. It is patchy….but I get the jist.

The place stinks of piss and cigarette smoke. The walls adorned with soviet public information posters. Stylised lino-cut prints of strident men and capable women with wind in their hair. Red and black ink against dirty yellow walls. The police inspector wears casual clothes. Ironed, laundered, cared for, but not careful. Jeans and a black T-shirt, displaying the King of Spades from a deck of cards with a skull for a head, embossed in gold.
‘…..sorry for your loss’
‘…..must ask these questions’
‘….. history of depression…’
‘….mental illness?’

That place, those jackals were not worthy of your story. It makes me choke to betray you with bare facts.

A breast cancer survivor with a double mastectomy who wound up in ancient Thrace, 20 kilometres from the birth place of Dyonisus. A modern day Amazon  who carefully chiselled out a small island of peace.

Death is physically final. It draws a line under any unsaid apologies. Regrets set hard in stone for one to carry forever. Although, because you were so gracious, I find it easy to set mine down at the side of the road and walk on. It is what you wanted, after all, to walk on.



Nicky Mitchell
(age 51)


A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.     

George Moore

day twenty eight

Ch..ch…ch changes


“Which is the most popular Gay Bar in town these days” I asked my young friend

She laughed out loud “there isn’t a Gay Bar anymore all the pubs are gay friendly”

I’ll believe that when I see it I thought, this is the North where things take aeons to change.

The Greyhound pub had been a beacon of hope for my kind, an oasis in the middle of a heterosexual desert, a place where a young woman could find her feet and just maybe the love of her life.

Every Friday was party night down the Greyhound; the pushing and heaving to get to the bar, the swaying and grinding on a dance floor no bigger than a tabletop, and snogging your girlfriend (or occasionally someone else’s) in the Ladies Toilets, these were our rituals. Somehow I can’t see that happening in one of the so-called ‘gay friendly pubs’.

Growing up in a working class Northern pit village during the 50’s and 60’s I was fed on a diet of homophobia, ingesting it into every cell. My only role model was Bessie the bus conductress who cut her hair short and wore trousers! I made cow eyes at her every morning on my way to school but she just smiled knowingly from a distance.

I too fought against wearing dresses and putting on the cloak of conformity but in the end I succumbed and it took Maggie’s megalomania over the striking Miners to eventually liberate me & enable me to fight for my cause.

From the Greyhound three coaches took us to London to March with Pride past Parliament’s house and two more to Manchester to raise our voices against Clause 28. I was well and truly out of a very crowded closet and exercising my political right to be ME! There was a tsunami of feeling that enough was enough and we were only going in one direction, I was young and strong and rode that wave through storm and tempest.

I’m glad I have lived in these interesting times. I have been privileged to see my gay brothers shake off the Law and to see openly gay politicians, police, artists and performers: that closet door is now a mile wide and the boundaries invisible. Gay parenting works alongside any other kind of family, and now of course we can get married.

I still miss the Greyhound though and am yet to be convinced that the standard Northern boozer is ‘gay friendly’, but perhaps like me it belonged to an age of struggle and activism and would be out of place in today’s world. I admire my young friend’s hope and optimism that the world has changed and feel proud knowing that what we did back then has made things so very different in the here and now!!

The Revolution is over; Long Live the Revolution!!!



Kate Field

day twenty seven

Plain Jane

By Majikle


For only child… read lonely child

The silence of the empty room

Why is it such a big deal?


I take TV,

I take tobacco,

I take tragedy

To take me away

To get in the way


Gone from me

Gone from me all distraction

Here I am alone with my own inaction


Only I am here

I am only here

And I am…

only lonely.



day twenty six



Underground anger breaks a surface, 

sulphuric bubbles bursting air to a calming wake,

background dream crashes a car and wants to fuck you really bad through grief and rage, 

different scores settle off target misdirections.

Your written intentions reflect and tear, 

journeys of comfort and tears.

A song with someone to touch you just so, to see you.

Moonset glide across morning winter sky,

streetlight pollutant bleed fade out, one by one from shadows. 

Clean, silver grey, birdsong determination calls an early dawn in relentless, 

inevitable comfort of a new day.



day twenty five

The hum of revolution


From our ever shifting palette of splendid coloured rocks

we women loving women continue painting.

Exhibitionists in friends’ garages

staining glass at altars beneath flapping flags of prayer

while a chain of women symbols mosaics the Tyne Bridge arch.


Still humming the tunes we have noted

we thread stitch embroider and sew

shaping new lines, new borders criss-crossing

and fresh fabric blends with old shades.

Constantly working re-working the quilt

We lie side by side we may never meet

yet together we’re held and we hold

through our patchwork of gold lace, petrol black leather

Alpine linen turquoise sequins faded denim red satin penetrating




Fiona Thomson, Margate