Janis Hetherington – Part 15: "Nothing is black and white"

1622408_1451480251751508_560787444_oJanis Hetherington was the first UK woman in an openly same-sex couple to be artificially inseminated. In this, the 15th part of her exclusive autobiographical series for Biscuit, Janis continues her reflections on Gaza and relates the shocking biphobia encountered by a friend’s young daughter…

Only last week on my normally sedate Facebook dialogue on the serious subject of the Gaza War, I was thrown a ton of nasties. Having looked me up on Google, my opponents had perused my Biscuit articles and of course my book, Love Lies Bleeding: Memoirs of a Sexual Revolutionary.

Instead of sticking to the serious debate about anti-semitism as a result of the above war, expletives and comments about “lezzies” and “ho  houses” were thrown about. I was also asked which one of my tormentors (a male and a female) I would prefer, alongside grotesque barbs about sucking terrorists dicks etc. Nothing whatsoever to do with the real issue concerning the  reality of the bombing of Gaza. So having left THAT thread – and hopefully left it threadbare – I applied my resultant vitriol to good use and wrote this article for Biscuit…

Moving on to another sort of prejudice – do bear with me – I was reminded earlier of a friend who had asked me earlier this year to “counsel” her 20 year old, “non-gap-year” daughter who was in the midst of a slight dilemma. Now anyone who has indeed read my booky will be aware that t’would be a frightful folly for me to counsel anyone on matters involving sexuality unless they had acquired the morals of a tom cat/bitch on heat. However since I was assured that this was almost the case re. said ladye’s sprog and since my friendship with said ladye’s mama had been ever so slightly more than friendship (albeit with the utmost brevity) I acquiesced. The crux of the matter was her daughter’s fling with the female owner of a studio where she was earning some pennies prior to her stint at an Oxford College. The affair had been sexually very satisfying but had not stopped her having fantasies about various males in her circle. In fact it had rather advanced those fantasies to include this other more mature ladye watching as our young friend was being taken by a chappy. Obviously she had not confided this to her amour but had spilled the beans to a gay group of female friends who had been so horrified they’d taken to texting the most noxious comments about her “betrayal”. Her more older ladye (only by a decade) was far too busy with photographic exhibitions to bother with juvenile vendettas and had been totally oblivious to the fact that her young paramour was being driven to drink by the abuse she was receiving on a daily basis. So what to do?

Firstly Mama being the savvy lady that she was had intercepted and read what was going on when she’d noticed her very pretty and hugely talented daughter totally “out of it” and isolating herself apart from her studio work. Fearing it was dreaded drugs abuse she’d made sure to access all her daughter’s communications and was more than relieved to see the actual cause was much more remedial. Oh! The joys of modern day parenthood!!!!

Secondly she ‘d taken the bull/cow by the horns and told her daughter that she’d fucked with women herself (well there was me thinking I was her only shagette) and that was totally normal in her eyes. Well done Ma… not many of those about I reckon!

Thirdly and here my chest swells with pride she insisted daughter read my Booky along with just about everything in the Bodleian Library (well slight exaggeration) on the subject of female fantasies and bisexual heroines.

"A fan of 40s film stars, my friend's daughter was happy to find many of them were bi..."

“A fan of 40s film stars, my friend’s daughter was happy to find many of them were bi…”

Since the lickle ladye had recently been compiling pics of the 40s screen stars it comforted her no end to find most of the ensemble she was familiar with had indeed been part of a “lavender ladyes circle” and quite happily shared lovers of both sexes. Being a clever madam she collated all this into a suitable compendium and blasted her torturers with the evidence whilst her Mama and I sat holding hands at an adjacent table in one of Oxford’s many gay bars. Having suitably made her point she flounced out and into the arms of her male “fantasy” and as far as I know she is still romancing said stud whilst commencing her arduous first year with a lab stuffed with microbiotic dodahs that will no doubt send us all into space without rocket fuel in the year Zeon.

Of course these circs are one in a zillion and not everywhere does there lurk such sophisticated families but had this event occurred even 20 years ago the speed with which it was resolved and in fact unfolded would have possibly dragged on interminably. People I knew who frequented the most famous gay clubs like the Gateways in the 60s and 70s when I was at my most rampant had to fit neatly into BUTCH and FEMME and swapping gender lovers was looked upon as BETRAYAL of the sisterhood. In fairness perhaps it was more understandable then since our fight for gay equality and recognition had been fraught with decades of vitriol, fear and discrimination and perhaps many felt ( I didn’t) let down if the rules of gay means gay were not adhered to. As in all battles initial solidarity means all and insecurities abound by the diesel-dyke load.

Which brings me back to how I arrived at this point from the FB abuse I received last week. That was and is about another war… Not one of sexual mores (although that freedom is wrapped up in many parts of it) but one of real bodies being rent asunder and those observers watching this disaster do indeed split themselves into the camps of which there is no compromise. A breeding ground for insults that have no bearing on frightening facts. And thereby hangs the sadness. Nothing is just black and white (no I am not going to use that stupid Shades of Grey analogy… Fuck I’ve just committed a gross sin!!!) and nothing should be. I hope our budding scientist sitting in the splendour of her Oxford uni will indeed break all sorts of barriers with her brilliant brain and her chance to change lives and I hope she never forgets how close SHE came to losing hers. I’m sure she won’t… and yes they know I’ve written this article. Cheers to you both.



Janis Hetherington, Part 14 – “Arabian Ladyes”

Janis Hetherington, Part 13 – “Blow-up dolls and secret cells”

Janis Hetherington, Part 12 – “Major Ronald”

Janis Hetherington, Part 11 – “Fatwa”

Janis Hetherington, Part 10 – “Split personality”

Janis Hetherington, Part 9 – “Eccentricity”

Janis Hetherington, Part 8 – “Polyamorality”

Janis Hetherington, Part 7 – “We still weren’t ‘normal’…”

Janis Hetherington, Part 6 – “The publicity years”

Janis Hetherington, Part 5 – “Meeting Biscuit”

Janis Hetherington, Part 4 – “The custody battle”

Janis Hetherington, Part 3 – “The death”

Janis Hetherington, Part 2 – “Breaking the rules of 70s family life”

Janis Hetherington, Part 1 – “A graphic sexual voyage”

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Janis Hetherington

Outrageously, rebelliously outspoken. Sexually incontinent. Avid supporter of lost causes: ever hopeful they will be transformed, ever fearful that once they are they will become the monsters that trampled them. Janis is the author of "Love Lies Bleeding: Memoirs of a Sexual Revolutionary".

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