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Historic context

  • Exploring their feelings about identity in the 1980s and 1990s has shaped their experience for many in this group
  • LGBTQ+ was not a current concept and being gay was not something talked about openly, and definitely not bisexuality
  • There was a lot of fear of gay men because of the AIDS pandemic and TV advertising being critical of their lifestyle
  • Section 28 was in force during this period prohibiting the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ by local authorities and leading to many LGBT student support groups closing or limiting their activities

School environment

  • There was no discussion or awareness of LGBT in schools
  • One woman talks about being labelled as the ‘lesbian’ and changing in the toilet cubicle for PE in case other girls thought she was looking at them
  • Section 28 meant only heterosexual relationships were covered in sex education
  • Huge amount of confusion and shame about what they were feeling, and what it meant, with no friends/teachers to discuss it openly with. Trying to fit in even though they knew they were different

Home environment

  • For most participants, gay people were talked about in derogatory terms at home as per the societal norms at the time
  • Participants had quite traditional family backgrounds so difficult to discuss these issues. Many were scared of their reaction
  • Portsmouth itself is quite a military/naval, closed city
  • Some families were quite supportive when they eventually came out and regretful of having used hurtful terms

Adulthood and life in Portsmouth

  • Poor mental health is common for these older LGBTQ+  participants as a result of not discovering or being able to express their true self until later in life
  • Life choices were made such as marriage and having children whilst still being confused about their sexual or gender identity
  • Some are still struggling to find where they truly belong, particularly around bisexuality
  • They feel safe most of the time in Portsmouth, particularly in Southsea and during the day time. It is better than when they were young
  • Some experience discrimination from within the LGBTQ+ community for not being ‘queer enough’, but most feel a part of the LGBTQ+ community particularly through Pride and Downtown Pompey