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'Private parties' for lesbians at the Greyhound


G: “The in Holloway Head must have just opened (around 1975) because I can remember Den and Sharon who’d founded it. Basically, they’d gone round all the pubs in Birmingham to find somewhere that would take a women only group, which would have been really difficult because everyone was really suspicious of women’s liberation anyway, especially men, but even women were. So, even if people had bought it that this was just a women’s group and not a lesbian group, I think they would have been edgy about it. So I think it must have been very brave of them, Dan and Sharon, to have gone round. The , which was a cider house, so an odd sort of place, agreed to have us. They’d got two bars and we had one of them and basically they put a Private Party sign up on the door for Tuesday evenings. Every now and again men would try and come in, or other people would try and come in and you’d have to say ‘Sorry, this is a private party’.”
B: “The only night I remember any of them protesting about it was the time I was there with only one other woman ‘cos we’d got there early and some chap tried to come in and we said ‘Sorry, this is a private party’ and he sort of just stared at the two of us and sort of eventually said ‘I hope you have a very nice time’. (Laughter).
G: “Going to the loo was a pain; you had to walk through the other bar. I don’t remember having any hassle, but you certainly got looked at with some degree of hostility really.”
B: “Well, I have a feeling that straight women at that point may still not have worn trousers that often for going out so just the fact that we were trouser wearing women might still have looked odd in a city pub”.
G: “It was also the fact that by and large, women didn’t go into pubs on their own anyway at that time - they might go in as a couple”.
Eventually the nights at The Greyhound ceased.
G: “I don’t know if it was that we got chucked out of The Greyhound or that The was proving itself to be gay-friendly and we were supporting it.” (by the late 1970s)

Contributed by: Gill Coffin, 63, Betty Hagglund, 50

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