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London easier to come out than Chicago

1969

“I’m Betty, I grew up in Chicago in the United States, I was the eldest of three children. Gill and I have six children between us. I came on holiday came to England in 1969 aged 19 and stayed, and came to Birmingham in 1974. I was exploring issues of sexuality and coming out in then was much easier than coming out in Chicago (where) all there was (for gay people) were the bars. Firstly the drinking age was 21 and secondly, even if I borrowed false I.D. and went into the gay bars in Chicago, there was always the possibility of running into one of my mother’s friends or them seeing me leave. Therefore, London for me was somewhere where I could come out. London in 1969 was an exceedingly easy place to be; there was full employment. If you didn’t like the job or field of work you had on a Monday morning, you could change almost instantly. And I lived quite well on my take home wage of Ł13 10 shillings a week”.

Contributed by: Betty Hagglund, 50

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