The "real lesbian" Tatler article has been all over the mainstream press, and then there was the big party the magazine hosted last Thursday, which saw the likes of Fiona Shaw and Gillian Anderson attend. The article included actress Sophie Ward and comic Sue Perkins. We catch up with Maia Kawai-Calderhead, one of the business women featured, to find out her thoughts.
"I do not think it is less acceptable to be a gay woman, I just think we haven't been given the exposure gay men have. It's a difficult question to answer why perhaps gay women aren't as prolific on the social scene, especially without generalising heavily. It could be to do with the fact that historically speaking, women as a whole didn't have a public voice as much as men did - women were seen to be the property of men, although thankfully this is something that is changing in modern society. Gay men tend to be labelled with more in vogue attributes, being fashionable and stylish, propagated by the fact that there are many famous male designers, stylists, and artists who are gay, for example. It can be seen as 'cool' to have a gay male best friend as a female, although the same doesn't seem to apply for a gay woman and a man. Perhaps also it's to do with the simple fact that women have a tendency to settle down more than men, hence they just aren't out as much on the scene.
I also believe "lesbians" have been sexualised, by pornography, by using the girl-on-girl image to sell, whereas you are less likely to see the same tactic using men. However, the straight male fantasy is somewhat an unrealistic one catered to fulfill their desires thus making gay women just that - more of a fantasy than a reality.
In saying this, even in the five years or so I've been in London, I've definitely seen a change on the lesbian scene. There are many more 'femme' types than before, possibly to do with the fact that there are more lesbian bars and events, LGBT societies, the internet, and being a gay woman is becoming more acknowledged and consequently prevalent in society. With the increased number of openly gay women, those who wouldn't have come out before, feel more comfortable to do so, and without the need, or feeling the need, to conform to any stereotyped look.
I agreed to be part of the Tatler portfolio, because it's an issue I am aware of and one I find very interesting, but also because I appreciate what Kate Reardon is trying to convey. In the past it was outlandish for a woman to wear trousers, it was illegal for a woman to vote. The image of the gay woman versus the gay man is just a little behind the times, as with many of the social issues that arose because of gender inequality were, never mind entering sexuality into the equation. As I mentioned before, modern society is changing and women generally are much more conspicuous, therefore I do believe, and sincerely hope, that gay women will share the same stance as gay men do in the not too distant future, and furthermore, for the whole 'gay' issue to be eliminated entirely."
Tatler's promo video at their party – don't we all look very posh!
Check out Maia's deets on Tatler