Once upon a time, long, long ago, there were no magazines for
lesbians. Well, there were a couple. A few maybe. But they were
only available by subscription - you couldn't walk into your local
alternative bookshop (let alone newsagent) and buy them, you had to
join a mailing list and pay upfront. If you were a young woman,
newly out, wondering where all the other young lesbians were, you
probably didn't even know about them. And there was no way for you
to find out.
There was no internet then. If you didn't know any other
lesbians in your area, the only thing to do was advertise for
penfriends. Things were very different.
It was a group of young women in London who first set up
Shocking Pink magazine in 1980. They weren't all gay and it wasn't
at first intended to be a magazine for lesbians, only a feminist
alternative to all the boring, sexist dross that was shoved at
girls relentlessly in those days. The young collective behind
Shocking Pink didn't discriminate against lesbians and wasn't
afraid to accept that some of its readers were gay and deserved to
read articles that were relevant to them. So gradually the lesbian
The magazine appealed to older women too - it was funny,
irreverent and intelligent. The other feminist titles of the time
could be a bit po-faced - but SP seldom was. Over more than 10
years, dozens of young women in their teens and early 20s joined
the three distinct collectives that published Shocking Pink until
it finally closed for good in the early 90s.
I joined the collective aged 20, in 1987, and got my first taste
of journalism. It was also my first taste of everything I came to
associate with lesbian life: the friendships, the romances, the
politics, the fun and the drama.
In a very real way, Shocking Pink was one of DIVA's foremothers.
By giving feisty, fun-loving, young lesbians a voice at a time when
gay women's public image was limited to hateful "loony lezzy"
headlines in the tabloid press, it kicked open the door for future
You can read more about Shocking Pink in an article by Cazz
Blase at feminist webzine The F Word: click
To read back issues of Shocking Pink online, click