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Lesbians

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Lesbians

What is lesbianism? What causes it? ITV's This Week attempts to demystify lesbian sexuality.

Current affairs 1965 26 mins

Director: John Phillips

Overview

What is lesbianism? What causes it... and can it be cured? This episode of ITV's long-running current affairs strand This Week attempts to answer these questions for a curious 1960s audience. Although homosexuality is defined at the outset as a 'problem', and referenced in alarmist terms, the female interviewees are wonderfully frank about their lives, identities and desires. They refute presenter Bryan Magee's stereotypical assumptions about lesbian women, impressing on him - and viewers - that they're normal human beings like everyone else.

The previous year, This Week had broadcast an episode about male homosexuality (Homosexuals, also available on BFI Player). This was a potentially much thornier subject, as Magee says, because unlike lesbianism it remained illegal in the UK at the time - but this episode stills makes clear the myriad difficulties faced by gay women in the homophobic world of 1960s Britain. One interviewee, Esme Langley, founded the sombrely-named Minorities Research Group to help women deal with this stigma and find access to resources.