The roaring dyke: Reporter and activist Jackie Forster
From the stage to before the news camera, Jackie Forster made her mark with the public. But it was as a lesbian activist that she created her legacy.
To commemorate one of Britain’s leading lesbian activists, a Google Doodle of Forster was made to remember the public personality who came out in a time during when it wasn’t popular to do so.
Jackie Forster: The public face
Born on November 6, 1926 in Islington, Jackie was raised in India with her father, a colonel stationed with the British Army Medical Army.
In 1932, she went back to Britain and attended a boarding school in Wycombe Abbey, Buckinghamshire, and then St. Leonard’s School in Fife, Scotland.
While she excelled in sports like hockey and lacrosse as she played for Scotland during the Second World War, she moved on to become an actress with the Wilson Barrett repertory company in Edinburgh after she graduated.
In 1950, she moved to London where she appeared in various West End productions and small roles in film and television.
As Jackie Mackenzie (her maiden name), she became a news reporter and pioneered the new way of doing straight-to-camera reporting, becoming a hit with the public.
Among her assignments was reporting on the wedding of Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier in Monte Carlo, which won her the Prix d’Italia in 1956.
Jackie Forster: Finding herself
While on a media lecture tour in Savannah, Georgia, Jackie had her first lesbian experience in 1957.
But that didn’t stop her from marrying Peter Forster, a novelist, in 1958. She later divorced him in 1962.
She lived in Canada for two years before returning to Britain to move in with her girlfriend. It was around that time that homosexuality in Britain was decriminalized.
In 1969, she spoke out during a rally at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park with her famous statement: “You are looking at a roaring dyke.”
She went on to become an activist for gay rights as she helped found the Gay Liberation Front in 1970, and took part in Britain’s first Pride March in 1971.
Oh, she also helped found the lesbian Sappho magazine in 1972, which was in print until 1981.
Jackie Forster: A legacy for lesbians
She became a role model for other lesbians, supporting the LGBTQ community and appearing on TV so that she speak on lesbian and LGBTQ rights.
She said of her affair: “I didn’t see myself as being a lesbian, or her, because I didn’t look as I imagined they did, and nor did she.”
“There were drug stores around the States, with these pulp books, lurid stories about lesbians who smoked cigars and had orgies with young girls. I thought, where are these women? We never met anyone we knew were lesbians,”she added.
Though she died of emphysema in 1998, she is still remembered by the LGBTQ community as “Saint Jackie of the Eternal Mission to Lay Sisters.”
You can check out the Google Doodle of her here.