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Alice

 

Alice

History is male oriented, and gay women in particular just don’t exist in it.

They’re either written out entirely, or alluded to as being “companions”. There’s a lot of hinting toward something but not specifying it. It can’t be that they didn’t exist. They just weren’t acknowledged. I’m a Lesbian, which isn’t that relevant but sort of is too. I think it shapes who you are; decisions you make about where you live, why you leave and it’s part of my work, with this interest in histories unwritten or that need to be made more visible.

 
 
 

Islington is an area that people tend to think of as very wealthy, especially since the whole Tony Blair era, and full of politicians and journalists. That’s part of it, but there is a really interesting history of it being a very politically radical borough. It had the first gay mayor, first gay MP. In the 1980s, the council actively encouraged applications to get gay people teaching in schools. Compared to everything else at the time, with Thatcher and Section 28, Islington was just completely out of step. It all started in there, pretty much. I did an exhibition about this; paintings and a text piece, and all these older lesbians came. It was really nice to be in a space full of them because they’re not a visible group in society, not en masse anyway. They told me in the 1980s, there were 7 lesbian bars within walking distance of the space we were in. They said it was great then, having so many clubs, but also that it was because they couldn’t go anywhere else and be safe. We’ve gained a lot of acceptance and rights, but lost community spaces where we can be separate.

 
 
 
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I remember growing up watching Suga Rush and thinking that I just needed to move to Brighton, because that’s where all the lesbians were. I furtively watched these shows. At university, I watched the whole of The L Word in secret in my room, thinking I then needed to move to LA. 

Now, I know other gay people so it’s less important to me. When you’re younger, you don’t know anyone else who might think the same things as you - seeing that on screen is like finding friends. I did a series of paintings of important TV lesbian moments, and did a Facebook post asking everyone to tell me the most critically important episodes or scenes from when they were growing up. The response was huge! It’s probably some of my proudest work ever, TV-size format paintings with any identifiers taken out. I like showing them to people and seeing if they can guess what show it’s from. If they’re gay, they probably get every single one.

 
 

From being an embarrassing label, it’s kind of trendy to be gay now.

People are owning being a lesbian and it not being shameful anymore. There’s a lot to be said for the football world too, and women being unashamedly strong and sporty. There are still stories about girls being bullied for playing football and stuff, but with the Women’s Super League I think that’s really going to change.

The idea that you could properly have women’s football in the newspaper 10 years ago? Unthinkable.

 
 
 

Alice is a brilliant artist. You can check our her work on Tumblr and Instagram.
She’s also an equally brilliant bike mechanic, based at
Apex Cycles in Clapham.

We met playing football for Goal Diggers FC, London’s largest club for women and non-binary players - check us out.