Jackie Kay MBE
What would your advice be to other lesbians who are building a career and raising a family?
It’s funny... I remember being at Stirling studying English Literature, but I also did Sociology and one of my teachers said to me, “So you’re black, you’re Scottish, you’re a lesbian. Are you working class too?”
I think it just happens that I am black, Scottish and a lesbian - that’s who I am and I’m quite proud of that. I think it’s annoying because people only get defined by difference, so you don’t get Ian McEwan or Martin Amis being described as ‘heterosexual and middle-class’. It would be great if they had a white writers section in a bookshop, as it would be interesting to see how it challenges people’s assumptions.
I’m sure that lesbian writers generally do get pretty discriminated against and are still not part of the literary mainstream. The literary establishment is still mostly male and mostly straight, so I think there is discrimination in that way.
Advice for other lesbian mums? To be as open as possible but also to put (the children) first.
I think the best thing is to be at ease with yourself and if you are at ease with yourself, then your children will be too.
Born in Edinburgh to a Scottish mother and Nigerian father, Jackie was adopted by a white couple and brought up in Glasgow.
Her early collection of poetry, The Adoption Papers, dealt with an adopted child’s search for a cultural identity and won her the Scottish Arts Council Book Award and the Saltire Society Scottish First Book Of The Year Award.
Her first novel, Trumpet, was published in 1998 and went on to win the Guardian Fiction Prize. Jackie is a tremendously successful writer and has written extensively for stage and television. In 2006 was awarded an MBE for services to literature.
She is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University and lives in Manchester.