For the last five years Jane Traies has been collecting the life stories of women over 60 (some as old as 90) who identify as lesbians. She now has an archive of about 50 life stories, representing the wide diversity of lesbian life in the second half of the 20th century, and is still collecting. Because there is comparatively little archive material on the personal history of ‘ordinary’ lesbians who lived (and died) in the closet, these previously untold stories are precious. As same-sex relationships become more and more normalised in the UK, the social and legal climate these women remember is disappearing. Jane’s presentation tells some of their stories, as a way of illustrating aspects of our ‘hidden history’.
Jane’s book, The Lives of Older Lesbians, will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in June 2016.