VOICES

LEAV­ING THE GHETTO

Diva (UK) - - Welcome | Contents -

Per­son of the month, Me­di­awatch and your tweets

In April 1994, I was nine years old, oc­cu­pied with the kinds of things most nine year olds are: hang­ing out with my friends, and con­vinc­ing my par­ents that I re­ally, re­ally, re­ally needed the lat­est Game­boy. As I was likely snog­ging posters of Mark Owen, Frances Wil­liams was putting the fin­ish­ing touches to the first is­sue of DIVA, a mag­a­zine that would come to mean so much to so many. Wil­liams, who edited the mag­a­zine for four years be­fore hand­ing the ba­ton to act­ing ed­i­tor He­len San­dler and later Gil­lian Rodger­son, imag­ined a “pub­li­ca­tion for us” where, for the first time, les­bians and bi women would be able to tell their own sto­ries in­stead of some­one else do­ing it for us. Jane Czyzsel­ska, DIVA ed­i­tor from April 2004 un­til last month, told the Guardian in 2013 that Frances wanted to take us out of the ghetto. “Her vi­sion was about cel­e­brat­ing les­bian lives, and mak­ing us feel we were part of a com­mu­nity, that we weren’t this ab­ject so­cial group.” It was be­cause of the work of Frances, He­len, Gil­lian and Jane that, in 2002, I was able to walk into a WH Smiths and buy my first copy of DIVA. Their words opened up an­other world – I had found my peo­ple. It was be­cause of them that I had the con­fi­dence to come out, to write about queer is­sues at uni, and to spend my ca­reer am­pli­fy­ing the voices of “the other”. And it’s be­cause of them that I’m here today, as deputy ed­i­tor of this fine mag­a­zine, try­ing my best to carry on their legacy and hold the me­dia to ac­count. I only hope I can do half a good a job as they did. @Seej

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