DIVA magazine launched in April 1994. The first lesbian and
bisexual magazine that was widely available across the UK. Things
were obviously looking up for women with an interest in the same
1994 was also the year when I was born. 1 August, to be exact. I
took a look back to the third issue of DIVA to see how things have
changed since I popped out into the world.
What really struck me is how gay culture has developed so quickly
in the last 16 years. It really feels like modern history to me,
something that'll be in some dog-eared history textbook soon
enough. What really stood out was the ignorance of members of the
straight community. In the 'news' section, comments from the Sun,
the Sunday Telegraph and Daily Express all showed a lack of
understanding and were verging on the homophobic. It shocked me.
I'm not used to reading something like that which could be bought
on almost every street corner. I've almost started to feel relieved
that in the late 90s I was more interested in my orange trousers
and when I'd next get potato smiley faces for tea.
However, the major articles have certainly stood the test of time.
Notably 'Sticky Moments' which discusses HIV and safer sex for
lesbians. It's clear from this that even in the mid 90s society was
changing, but now I feel it has almost gone backwards. Certainly in
this case. I've been out for two years and it's only now that I've
realised that I have to ask the questions, or the answers won't
come to me. I knew all about condoms as soon as I entered secondary
school, it was only last month that I found out what a dental dam
was. If this was being discussed so seriously nearly 17 years ago
then why have I been so oblivious to it? How is that vaguely
What struck me about this issue of DIVA, and others from the early
years, were that there are a lot of dykes. I have never seen so
much leather, short hair and motorbikes in one magazine! In many
ways, I'm glad that in 2011 DIVA has branched out to represent all
forms of the gay woman. The only motorbike I'd ever consider going
on is in Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn, but maybe one wasn't
allowed to say that as a lesbian in 1994?
It's clear that DIVA has changed rapidly since I was born. Gone
are the listings of venues, clubs and support groups - the internet
does the job now. The 'book club', including an opportunity to
order novels with lurid titles (my favourite being Macho Sluts),
has turned into something more grown up. There was even a recipe
for chocolate cake!
The issues raised however are still important today. Whether it is
still something that lesbians are fighting for or an achievement
that we can look back on and be proud of how far we've come.
Relevant? Obviously, and I'm sure it still will be in 16 years
How relevant is it now? 4/5