Protesting the misreporting of the Lesbian Strength March

Our member, Paula Boulton writes to Diva magazine after inaccurate reporting of the 2019 Lesbian Strength March in leeds

As the MC of the Lesbian Strength March I am appalled at this inaccurate reportage. We held a LESBIAN STRENGTH MARCH and Rally. This tradition has a herstory which many of the 150 Lesbians (I counted them) attending can remember. The signs and banners were about Lesbians. The march was heavily policed in response to threats we had received and after thorough Police liaison it was agreed that the Dyke Pride for Lesbians of all genders would march behind ours at a suitable distance. The police maintained a gap between the two.On the route there were the usual responses from the crowd – including pervy men urging us to keep making their porn, and your headline is absolutely not recognisable.

I saw 4 individuals on the corner of one intersection with signs about including everyone.We were cheered as we marched past the anti- brexit demo as the speaker invited her crowd to give a cheer to support the march. We responded with a similar cheer. On arrival at the Civic Hall chairs had been provided for the older women and those with disabilities and limited mobility. We had a BSL signer as several women were hearing impaired.

The group sang Lesbian Singalong to open the rally – a song which lists all the jobs Lesbians do and things of note Lesbians have achieved and states “everyone benefits from a Lesbian in their world”.

The speeches were chosen to represent the age spread from 20 to 80, and covered 1. A tribute to Magdalen Berns, a young Lesbian activist currently in palliative care to whom we dedicated the march 2. A young lesbian talking about her experience of coming out 3. A young woman who has detransitioned in the past few months 4. An academic sharing issues Lesbians face in a University setting 5. An older Lesbian sharing how life was for Lesbians in the 70s and 80s6. Linda Bellos.

We musicians performed the popular Gentleman Jack and a song about climate change. A young Scottish Lesbian performed 3 of her comic songs referencing mental health and capitalism. An older black Lesbian read her poetry.

We mentioned Lesbian Asylum seekers – one of whom- an Iranian Lesbian – was present having recently been successful in her claim.
The whole event focused on Lesbians and our lives – which is what Diva is meant to do. There is actual footage of this good natured march which you should be celebrating.

Why have you chosen to misrepresent the event? If I was the nation’s only Lesbian magazine I would have managed to acknowledge both groups in a Lesbian positive way. As a protected characteristic we are allowed by law to have Lesbian only events.

How different would it have been to see something like this instead – you know – honest journalism?
“Leeds was awash with Lesbians on Saturday as a group of Lesbians resurrected Lesbian Strength and another group protested at their definition of Lesbian.”

This letter was in sent response to this article in Diva magazine

You can also read the transcript of Paula’s speech at the Lesbian Strength rally here