You are not logged in. Signup to contribute or login! Not recieved your activation email? Click here to send it again.

Greyhound Women Fight Back


WOMEN FIGHT BACK – article in ‘’, Issue 1, July 1978 by

It was a good night, at the , 40 women together, all in high spirits, talking, laughing, joking. One or two new, but most knowing each other. That sort of unhassled atmosphere that seldom happens anywhere else.

I was chatting with Sylvia, the door opens, in step two men. I was sent to ask them to leave. ‘I’m afraid it’s a private party.’ I might look weak, vulnerable - feminine - in a long skirt - I don’t feel it! ‘I’m afraid you’ll have to leave.’ They’re smirking of course they know damn well it’s a private party; it says so on the door. These are an odd pair.

‘It’s a public bar’. They’re all set to hassle. ‘It’s a private party.’

‘You’re the spokeswoman, are you?’ This is the bright spark, the other stays quiet, ‘for the moment.’ Oh god they’re cops! Damn, going to be awkward about it. Sue pipes up, ‘Could you please come outside if you want to discuss it.’ They don’t intend to do that - it wouldn’t be half so such fun. ‘You can’t hold a private party in a public bar – a couple of girls next door had a bet with us’. ‘People hold private parties in pubs all the time. I had my 21st in a pub at home. Anyway this bar is almost always used for private parties, so I’d advise you to leave.’ Out come the warrant cards - so I’m right. ‘What part of Scotland do you come from?’ ‘That’s irrelevant to this situation.’ ‘The licensing laws are different.’ ‘Not that different. I’ve been to private parties in bars down here - in the for instance.’ ‘The landlord has no right to let out a public bar. We’ve already seen the landlord.’ ‘A landlord has every right to close a bar to the public, and he has the right to refuse anyone admission to any part of his premises at any time without giving a reason.’

Sue: ‘How old do you think I am?’ The bright spark shrugs his shoulders. ‘Over eighteen?’ He nods. ‘I went to a country pub with three others and the landlord refused us service on the grounds of being under age. The youngest of us was 23 and I’m 29. He wouldn’t even look at my driving licence. Anyway it was obvious that we were all over 18.’ Me: He was perfectly within his rights even if he hadn’t given a reason.’

The bright spark smiles, he’s obviously thought up another gem. ‘You must consider your position.’ ‘What position?’ I know this line! ‘What is your position in this bar?’ I tried not to laugh. I am speaking as a regular customer of this bar.’ What does he take me for? ‘Consider your position very carefully.’ This was obviously getting at the fact that I was a gay woman and therefore ought to back down to him as a, NORMAL MALE member of the POLICE and be afraid of him - huh!

At this point the landlord appeared. Carol had sent a message via the other bar to get him. It seemed as though this was the first he knew about the affair. He took bright spark and his friend outside to talk to them.

During the conversation I had with Mr. Bright Spark I was furious enough to land him one; it was only with difficulty that I remained calm. Others who might just have laid into him were restrained in the background! Knowing the ‘’ tactics of some policemen, a punch on the nose would have been just what they wanted - assaulting a police officer etc. etc. Thus they could have had a case against us through something which started with them in the wrong.

Throughout this other women made similar points to the and talked to me. While the police were talking to the landlord Carol decided to get their numbers and we discussed the situation. It was decided that we should make an official complaint.

After some time the policeman - the Bright Spark who did most of the talking returned to say ‘Don’t worry you probably won’t see us in here again - it probably won’t go any further’ and other similar things. Too right he wouldn’t take it further, but we and the landlord surely would.

I think he was surprised to say the least when it became obvious, after Carol took their numbers, that we intended to take the matter further. He obviously had expected us to ‘Yes sir, no sir’ him and be ‘weak little women’ afraid of exposure as lesbians. Well I for one couldn’t care less if there were giant billboards at every street corner to proclaim the fact to all and sundry. I am proud to be a lesbian; I’m glad to be gay.

Towards the end of the incident ‘Bright Spark’ denied having said they were doing it for a bet. The bit about having seen the landlord already was of course a lie, the landlord was furious about the whole thing and telephoned the Chief Constable of licensing who apologised profusely and said that he’d had trouble with these two before. We are still writing to complain in the hopes that they will have their knuckles severely rapped - it might teach them not to play childish pranks in future.

Finally - every cloud has a silver lining! I think this incident showed the growing support women are giving each other in that there was a decided atmosphere of standing together on this. I do believe that there is a growing sense of community among at least a section of the lesbian population.

As a result of this incident the landlord offered us a Wednesday and a Sunday as well! CHE () are thinking of taking the Wednesday and we may well take the Sunday. Lesbians 1, Laughing Policemen 0!

There is a moral to this story - be strong! If you think you’re right stand your ground but don’t be provoked into violence. Enlist support from others, don’t be hassled and back down because some man feels he is in a position of power. Don’t be stepped on - LESBIANS IGNITE!

In sisterhood, Helen Rose

Contributed by: Helen Rose