I was in The Glory in East London when I read about the homophobic attacks in Portsmouth.
Portsmouth, where I grew up and where I realised I was gay. I’ve been to the pub the women were at, held hands with girlfriends on the surrounding streets and talked about being gay at pretty much every comedy club in the city.
But standing in the glorious Glory where the most pronounced version of yourself is always the best, it felt like another world. I was with my Mum, who likes to take in a drag show or two when she visits.
It’s not about us keeping quiet it’s about everyone speaking up.
I showed her the article, she said ‘I’m pleased you don't live at home anymore’. She’s kept my bedroom the same for the last twelve years so I never thought she’d say that.
But I know when she tells me, ‘You have to be careful’, she means, ‘I don’t want everyone to know you’re gay because I don’t want anyone to hurt you’.
I’m a comedian, I’m out on stage and I’ve had homophobic heckles more times that I care to remember.
When it first happened, it scared me. It still does a bit. My sexuality shouldn’t annoy someone so much that they shout ‘F*ck off, dyke’ from a dark corner where I can’t see them.
I’ve never understood the effort people put into tearing each other down. If you can’t be happy for someone then just ignore them.
Being abused hurts, of course it does. But it also reinforces how important it is to be out, to be visible and for all lesbians to bring their experiences to the conversation.
That’s why we need more gay women in the public eye.
It can feel like the world leaves women out when they think about same-sex relationships or that the general understanding of lesbians is a narrow cliché.
That’s why we need more gay women in the public eye and for our stories to be told, because they’re important.
The morning after that night in The Glory, Mum and I were having a coffee. She said she’d had a great time and that she felt really included. People kept telling her what a lovely mum she was to come to a gay bar with me.
And that’s what we need to remember. It’s not about us keeping quiet it’s about everyone speaking up.
Then she said, ‘You should hold hands in the street Suzi. Although you should probably find a girlfriend first’.
As part of our General Election manifesto, we will be asking candidates to take hate crimes against LGBT people seriously, and give them the punishments they deserve.
Don’t stay quiet. Join our campaign to protect LGBT rights.