our stories

"Risky changes": A coming out story – Part 2

RCchap7twowomen2Bisexual artist Norma Furman, 80, shares the second of a series of extracts from her memoirs. In Part 2, the cracks begin to show in Norma’s relationship with her first female lover, Audrey, when they embark on an action-packed road trip in Audrey’s husband’s car…

I joined Audrey’s consciousness raising group where women from different lifestyles met weekly to discuss and share feelings and experiences most women have in common. It opened my eyes and my mind. The unmarried women and the ones without children envied those of us who had the “traditional” family, while we longed for the freedom we had given up. We knew we had it better than any other generation of women in history (except for maybe the primitive matriarchal societies) but questioned why that was supposed to be good enough. Why were our rights not equal with the men? Why would a just, fair God or a just, fair society for that matter give one group of humans fewer opportunities than another group? Especially if that other group consisted of their own mothers, sisters, daughters and lovers.

Some of the rights that were denied to us in those days were important like “equal pay for equal work” and “equal physical activity programs”. Some of the rights that were denied to us were silly, seemed arbitrary and made no sense such as: we could smoke cigarettes but we could not inhale from cigars or pipes, we had to wear short skirts and shear stockings in the dead of winter when the winds blew our skirts and often revealed our frozen “tootsies” and we were called “immodest” if we wore slacks!
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Janis Hetherington – Part 19: "Marriage"

Marriage-handcuffsJanis Hetherington was the first UK woman in an openly same-sex couple to be artificially inseminated. In this, the 19th part of her exclusive autobiographical series for Biscuit, Janis ponders the issue of marriage.

So, let’s describe my dilemma. Marriage. Like not an agreement but the whole shebang.. crash bang wallop. Suddenly we (myself and my polyamour of 40 years) have a drawer full of invites. The present list alone would sort out Biscuit for life!!

What is it? How can you contemplate it if, like me, you know you are capable of having multiple sexual partners? What are you committing to? The right of equality? Is that all it is? To prove YOU have the right to be equal? But equal to what? As I understand marriage vows in my nearly 70 years on this odd and not so green planet I see it as a contract of bondage not always lovey dovey bliss. We (as playful partners) were supposed to be different. Yes we signed legal contracts over property and wills but nuptials….? Not our bag dear-hearts.

And no I am NOT naïve. I have fought many court cases that I would still have had to fight had I and my children been part of a conventional marriage contract. Equality yes. The right to choose yes. For those of us who’d be throttled by tying the knot, don’t make us look like non-committers. Security? That seems to be the issue. It always was in a failed marriage and those who specialise in the new brand of GAY MARRIAGE I fear will charge a premium when sorting out assets and unfortunately custody.
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