Archway with Words festival: Sarah Westwood finds humour in being a ‘rubbish lesbian’

The Rubbish Lesbian by Sarah Westwood

The Rubbish Lesbian by Sarah Westwood - Credit: Archant

Sarah Westwood, as she boldly declares in each of her weekly columns for Diva magazine, is a rubbish lesbian. Since coming out to her friends and family at the age of 30, her attempts to embrace a gay lifestyle have led to every awkward experience under the sun.

Accidently blasting out erotic audio books through a pair of test speakers at Currys; finding sausages suddenly impossible to eat without the inevitable jokes; debating the mysteries of the scissor position in her local hairdressers: if there’s a Miranda-esque faux pas worth stumbling over, Westwood has been there and spelt it out for our own entertainment.

“It started just by me being quite embarrassed about the whole thing and handling it quite poorly,” she says. “I noticed that because I was doing that and being quite reticent about coming out, or talking to people about it, that it made the whole situation quite awkward for everyone else.

“In the end, I was retelling things to my friends about what happened and they’d just be laughing. They’d say, ‘That’s so funny, you should write it down’. When I started, it was more a cathartic way of getting [my thoughts] out and thinking, ‘God, I’ve got to stop behaving like this’. It still happens, even though I feel a lot braver about it now.”

As a young, attractive and sociable North Londoner, Westwood is a world away from the butch, brash lesbian stereotypes of generations from yesteryear she often plays upon. She is pleased that, unlike when she was younger, there are now plenty of diverse lesbian role models to be found on television and in the media; consciously or not, the writer’s new book, The Rubbish Lesbian – a collection of her many Diva columns – has also established her as one of this order.

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“I think a lot more role models are out there now. When I was younger, there was really only Martina Navratilova really, but that was it; there was no visibility.

“You didn’t have that thing where you recognised people who were like you. Now hopefully that’s changed.”

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Sarah Westwood talks at the Worship Centre, Methodist Church on Saturday October 18, 4.45pm. Tickets £5.

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