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I was only 16, too young to buy alcohol, so my friend David, camp as a row of tents in his bell-bottom Brutus jeans and tight cheesecloth T-shirt, and with tinsel around his neck, pushed his way to the bar to order two pints of lager and blackcurrant. Maybe because it was Christmaseven the few straight men in the club looked gay. I had never been out in Newcastle before, and had travelled to the Toon from my home in Darlington with David, who worked in the same hair salon as me. Prior to that, I had been out only in Middlesbrough, where there was a small club that, once a week, admitted lesbians and gay men.
But on this occasion I had been persuaded to branch out and try to meet a nice girl to kiss under the mistletoe. My efforts at dating in the year I had been out as a lesbian had been somewhat unsuccessful. It was not easy to be out and proud in the s.
It was perfectly understandable that the young women I met through Gay Times were scared and short on confidence. Meeting David in the salon meant I could have fun, as well as look for political activists. I was already a member of the north-east branch of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality CHEand had been trying to meet feminist activists which I finally managed the following year.
All I needed to complete my life was a bit of romance. Along we trolled to the Casablanca, passing Christmas party outings, carol singers, and groups of young men in shirt sleeves, despite the freezing weather. I saw a tall, red-haired woman look furtively around her before entering the premises. I fell immediately and heavily in love. Jan was training to be a nurse, and had recently split up with her girlfriend.
Sixteen-year-old me was captivated by the sophistication of this year-old, educated, utterly glorious-looking lesbian who oozed confidence and smoked French fags through a holder. Tongues and everything. Jan tasted of Drambuie and smelled of Charlie perfume. I could barely breathe with the excitement of being in love. It was so different from a crush, I thought. Crushes are for girls; I am now a proper woman and a bona fide lesbian. Jan asked me to stay with her that night, and I pretended to be nonchalant.
This is difficult, I discovered, when shaking from head to toe, and unable to speak. I remember the smell of poppers as the boys prepared themselves to go on clubbing elsewhere into the early hours. Jan told me she had Advocaat at hers and that she would make me a snowball and feed me mince pies, which she did.
We had them for breakfast. I am not a huge fan of Christmas, but every year, as soon as the seasonal songs and snowballs come out I am reminded of my coming of lesbian age. Jan and I lasted only a couple of months, but Christmas will always remind me of falling in love that very first time. A Christmas that changed me Christmas. This article is more than 6 years old. Julie Bindel. Jan tasted of Drambuie, smelt of Charlie perfume and, most importantly, was in the same gay club as me that chilly night in Julie Bindel aged Fri 19 Dec Topics Christmas A Christmas that changed me Relationships comment.
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The Christmas I was 16 and fell in love with a woman for the first time