Let's champion lesbians, says society mag Tatler

Campaign to end 'double standards' launched with VIP dinner for 200 women

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The Independent Online

The magazine Tatler is about to become an unlikely champion of lesbian rights. On Thursday, the society magazine will ask on the cover of its August issue "Where are all the lesbians?" and profile "seven of London's smartest and loveliest lesbians" in an attempt to tackle their absence from the social scene.

Kate Reardon, the magazine's editor, said: "It was based on a simple but overwhelming observation that in 'high society' there are many wonderful happily out gay men, whereas gay women seem to be rarer than hen's teeth. There's a huge double standard. Gay men are entirely accepted in society and gay women aren't."

The seven women profiled include the comedian Sue Perkins, environmental campaigner Tamsin Omond, writer Emma Kennedy, model Eden Clark and actress Sophie Ward. On Thursday, Tatler is hosting a dinner in their honour for 200 female guests, already unofficially dubbed the Lesbian Ball.

Ms Reardon feels there is a need to redress the balance between attitudes to gay men and women. She said: "People are either titillated or a little bit frightened."

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, however, believes Ms Reardon may be painting too rosy a picture where men are concerned. "To say gay men are entirely accepted is not supported by the evidence," he said.

The businesswoman Maia Kawai-Calderhead, one of the seven women profiled, said: "The image of the gay woman vs the gay man is just a little behind the times, as with many of the social issues that arose because of gender inequality."

Jane Czyzselska, editor of the lesbian and bisexual magazine Diva, said: "We live in a society that privileges men over women and that will be reflected in lesbians and gay men too." She is also invited to Thursday's event. "It's a slightly random collection of women that only seem to have in common the fact that they are lesbians."