The Lesbian London Survey

My name is Josie and I work as an intern on the Speak Out project, digitising the material that the volunteers and Rosemary have found that relates to LGBTQ+ lives. The LMA has such a wide range of different LGBTQ+ material that I am often surprised by what is in each box. I want to tell you about one of my favourite items so far: the Lesbian London Survey.

Lesbian London was a free magazine that ran from December 1991 to June 1994. In their July 1992 issue, the magazine contained a survey that was designed to replicate the surveys normally aimed at heterosexual women to find out about their lives. The survey ranges from questions on when the responder ‘decided’ they were a lesbian/bisexual, to children, the lengths and types of their relationships and finally to sexual subjects. The survey received about 230 responses and the LMA holds them all. Reading through the responses was fascinating.

The question that tended to receive the most amusing answers was ‘What do you dislike about being in a relationship?’ Many people wrote answers that had me wanting to track down the author and find out more.

Some people answered very specific responses relating to their partners:

‘Not being able to sit in my garden with her because she has hay fever’
‘Her tights drying in my bathroom. Her squeezing the toothpaste in the middle!’

Others just didn’t seem to have grasped some of the key components of a relationship:

‘Having to always consider someone else as well as yourself in decision making’
‘Having to think of someone else before going on holiday’

I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of responses the same survey would get today, in a society that is more accepting. Would people have come out at earlier ages? Or to more people? Do today’s lesbians and bisexual women have more straight friends than their 1992 counterparts?

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