Diva celebrate 23 years in circulation this month, with their 250th issue featuring stories of how lesbian/bi visibility, culture and politics have evolved in that time. This moment in the magazine’s history inspires their readers and contributors to reflect on their own history. At least it did for me.
Heather Peace, regular columnist for the magazine, shared her coming out experiences which coincided with the release of Diva in 1994. She describes how the magazine helped her understand her to identify as gay, go to events, meet other people and how it made her feel more at home in her sexuality. Her article felt like she was part of something exciting, something new. When I began reading Diva Magazine it was long established, but the thrill of something new, being part of something beyond your surroundings, resonated with me.
I started reading Diva Magazine when I moved to London at the age of 22. I had just met the woman of my dreams, had my first kiss and lost my lezzy L plates all in one night. It was a step I had been waiting to take for years. In the months after that night, I sought out (what I considered) the trappings of being a lesbian. I enjoyed looking a certain way, going to gay bars and lesbian book clubs. Reading more lesbian oriented material was one of those things, Diva at the forefront.
I bought Diva for those moments when I wanted to take care of myself, to engage with lesbian and bisexual culture and feel connected to something. Every long train journey back to see my parents, every evening plan of a bubble bath and a glass of wine (read: glass of whiskey) I picked up a copy of Diva to soothe me. I loved the articles, the photoshoots and the diversity of bodies and looks. I saw myself there, I saw women I would want to date there. It didn’t alienate me like the copies of ‘straight women’ magazines I had read in my teen years, idly flipping through glossy pages of clothes I would look awful in, diets I would never attempt and sex tips I despaired at.
It became a regular purchase every month. A girlfriend once gave me a years subscription to Diva for my birthday and I have piles of back issues in my wardrobe that I can’t bear to throw out. These magazines are part of my literary archive, my coming out narrative, my connection outside of myself.
Five years on, I don’t buy Diva every month and my subscription, like the relationship with the girl who gifted it to me, are long over. But it is something I like to pick up when I want to engage in selfcare or a treat to read. Before every long journey, when I’m clutching a coffee and browsing the shelves of the newsagents for something to flick through on the train, I’m looking for those distinctive block capitals first.
Happy 250th issue Diva Magazine x